A new study has found that reduced oxygen supply alleviates some of the cognitive impairment in mice caused by whole brain radiation therapy, which is used to treat brain tumors.
The researchers, led by William Sonntag of University of Oklahoma, exposed the mice to a clinically relevant regimen of radiation, which caused progressive deterioration of spatial learning starting about two months post-radiation.
However, when mice were treated with chronic hypoxia for about three weeks, beginning one month after radiation exposure, they showed significant improvement in this area, which was maintained for at least two months after returning to normal oxygen levels.
The radiation treatment also caused an early decline in contextual learning and memory, but these deficiencies were transient and dissipated within three months post-radiation.
The study has been recently published in the online journal PLoS ONE.