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Open Access Research article

Changes in neuronal activation patterns in response to androgen deprivation therapy: a pilot study

Monique M Cherrier13*, Paul R Borghesani1, Amy L Shelton4 and Celestia S Higano2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA; 98195; USA

2 Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA; 98195, USA

3 MIRECC VAPSHCS, 1660 S. Columbian Way Seattle WA 98108; USA

4 Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Ames Hall/3400 North Charles Street, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218: USA

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:1  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-1

Published: 4 January 2010



A common treatment option for men with prostate cancer is androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). However, men undergoing ADT may experience physical side effects, changes in quality of life and sometimes psychiatric and cognitive side effects.


In this study, hormone naïve patients without evidence of metastases with a rising PSA were treated with nine months of ADT. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain during three visuospatial tasks was performed at baseline prior to treatment and after nine months of ADT in five subjects. Seven healthy control patients, underwent neuroimaging at the same time intervals.


ADT patients showed reduced, task-related BOLD-fMRI activation during treatment that was not observed in control subjects. Reduction in activation in right parietal-occipital regions from baseline was observed during recall of the spatial location of objects and mental rotation.


Findings, while preliminary, suggest that ADT reduces task-related neural activation in brain regions that are involved in mental rotation and accurate recall of spatial information.