White matter disease induced by high-dose chemotherapy: Longitudinal study with MR imaging and proton spectroscopy

Mark S. Brown, Salomon M. Stemmer, Jack H. Simon*, John C. Stears, Roy B. Jones, Pablo J. Cagnoni, Jeanelle L. Sheeder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the time course for development of white matter changes induced by high-dose chemotherapy. METHODS: Eight patients with advanced breast cancer were entered into a prospective, longitudinal trial that included examination by MR imaging and proton MR spectroscopy before chemotherapy and through 12 months after treatment with carmustine, cyclophosphamide, and cisplatin, combined with autologous hematopoietic progenitor cell support (AHPCS). RESULTS: Six patients completed induction chemotherapy, at which time all MR imaging studies appeared normal. At 3 months after the conclusion of high-dose chemotherapy and beyond, three of the four patients remaining in the study showed an increasing volume of white matter changes, which appeared to stabilize during the period from 6 months to 1 year. Maximal volumes of abnormal white matter ranged from 73 to 166 cm3. MR spectroscopy showed little or no change in metabolic ratios through the period of observation, although there was a suggestion of small transient treatment-related decreases in the ratio of N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) to creatine. CONCLUSION: White matter changes are common sequelae of treatment with high-dose chemotherapy combined with AHPCS, occurring early in the period following high-dose chemotherapy, with a rapid and progressive accumulation to about 6 months, but not accompanied by persistent neurologic symptoms. The MR spectroscopic analyses suggest a minimal disturbance of the neuronal marker NAA, a finding that may in part explain the good neurologic outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-221
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1998
Externally publishedYes


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