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Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) and stress are common symptoms in cancer patients and represent early side effects of cancer treatment which affect the life quality of the patients. CRF may partly depend on disruption of the circadian rhythm. Locomotor activity and corticosterone rhythms are two important circadian outputs which can be used to analyze possible effects on the circadian function during cancer development and treatment. The present study analyzes the relationship between locomotor activity rhythm, corticosterone levels, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development, and radiotherapy treatment in a mouse model. HCC was induced in mice by single injection of diethylnitrosamine (DEN) and chronic treatment of phenobarbital in drinking water. Another group received chronic phenobarbital treatment only. Tumor bearing animals were divided randomly into four groups irradiated at four different Zeitgeber time points. Spontaneous locomotor activity was recorded continuously; serum corticosterone levels and p-ERK immunoreaction in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) were investigated. Phenobarbital treated mice showed damped corticosterone levels and a less stable 24 hours activity rhythm as well as an increase in activity during the light phase, reminiscent of sleep disruption. The tumor mice showed an increase in corticosterone level during the inactive phase and decreased activity during the dark phase, reminiscent of CRF. After irradiation, corticosterone levels were further increased and locomotor activity rhythms were disrupted. Lowest corticosterone levels were observed after irradiation during the early light phase; thus, this time might be the best to apply radiotherapy in order to minimize side effects. © 2021 The Authors. Journal of Pineal Research published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Soha A Hassan, Amira A H Ali, Mona Yassine, Dennis Sohn, Martina Pfeffer, Reiner U Jänicke, Horst-Werner Korf, Charlotte von Gall. Relationship between locomotor activity rhythm and corticosterone levels during HCC development, progression, and treatment in a mouse model. Journal of pineal research. 2021 Apr;70(3):e12724

PMID: 33615553

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