Research Papers:

Adverse effects of paternal chemotherapy exposure on the progeny brain: intergenerational chemobrain

Anna Kovalchuk _, Yaroslav Ilnytskyy, Rafal Woycicki, Rocio Rodriguez-Juarez, Gerlinde A.S. Metz and Olga Kovalchuk

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:10069-10082. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.24311

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Anna Kovalchuk1,2, Yaroslav Ilnytskyy2, Rafal Woycicki2, Rocio Rodriguez-Juarez2, Gerlinde A.S. Metz1,3 and Olga Kovalchuk2,3

1Canadian Center for Behavioural Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, T1K3M4, Canada

2Department of Biology, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, T1K 3M4, Canada

3Alberta Epigenetics Network, Calgary, AB, T2L 2A6, Canada

Correspondence to:

Gerlinde A.S. Metz, email: [email protected]

Olga Kovalchuk, email: [email protected]

Keywords: chemotherapy, brain, transcriptome, epigenetics, transgeneration effects

Received: January 18, 2016     Accepted: April 27, 2017     Published: January 23, 2018


Recent advances in cancer treatments have led to significant increases in cure rates. Most cancer patients are treated with various cytotoxic chemotherapy regimens. These treatment modalities are mutagenic and genotoxic and cause a wide array of late-occurring health problems, and even exert a deleterious influence on future offspring. The adverse effects from exposed parents on offspring are referred to as transgenerational effects, and currently little is known about chemotherapy-induced transgenerational effects. Furthermore, transgenerational effects have not been studied in the brains of progeny of exposed parents. In this study, we analyzed the existence and molecular nature of transgenerational effects in the brains of progeny of animals exposed to three common chemotherapy agents: cyclophosphamide (CPP), procarbazine (PCB) and mitomycin C (MMC). For the first time, our results show that paternal exposure to chemotherapy drugs causes transgenerational changes in the brain of unexposed progeny. Although no DNA damage was observed in terms of γH2AX levels, some alterations were found in levels of PCNA, protein involved in DNA repair, replication and profileration. Furthermore, there were changes in proliferation and apoptosis proteins BCL2 and AKT1, the proteins associated with DNA methylation, DNMT1 and MeCP2. Some altered expression trends were noted in proteins involved in myelin biogenesis, MBP and MYT1L. Moreover, global transcriptome profiling revealed changes in over 200 genes in the whole brains of progeny of animals exposed to CPP, and the changes in the levels of FOXP2 and ELK1proteins were confirmed by western blot analysis. These findings suggest that paternal chemotherapy significantly affects offspring brain development and may affect brain functioning. This research provides a key roadmap for future investigations of the novel phenomenon of transgenerational effects of chemotherapy in the brain of progeny of exposed parents.

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