BACKGROUND: Intrathecal and intravenous chemotherapy, specifically methotrexate, might contribute to neural microstructural damage.
OBJECTIVE: To assess, by diffusion tensor imaging, microstructural integrity of white matter in paediatric patients with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) following intrathecal and intravenous chemotherapy.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Eleven children diagnosed with de novo ALL underwent MRI scans of the brain with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) prior to commencement of chemotherapy and at 12 months after diagnosis, using a 3-tesla (T) MRI scanner. We investigated the changes in DTI parameters in white matter tracts before and after chemotherapy using tract-based spatial statistics overlaid on the International Consortium of Brain Mapping DTI-81 atlas. All of the children underwent formal neurodevelopmental assessment at the two study time points.
RESULTS: Whole-brain DTI analysis showed significant changes between the two time points, affecting several white matter tracts. The tracts demonstrated longitudinal changes of decreasing mean and radial diffusivity. The neurodevelopment of the children was near compatible for age at the end of ALL treatment.
CONCLUSION: The quantification of white matter tracts changes in children undergoing chemotherapy showed improving longitudinal values in DTI metrics (stable fractional anisotropy, decreasing mean and radial diffusivity), which are incompatible with deterioration of microstructural integrity in these children.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.