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Deficits in temporal order memory induced by interferon-alpha (IFN-α) treatment are rescued by aerobic exercise

Barlow, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-2737-8287, Fahey, B., Smith, K. , Passecker, J., Della-Chiesa, A., Hok, V., Day, J., Callaghan, C. & O'Mara, S. (2018). Deficits in temporal order memory induced by interferon-alpha (IFN-α) treatment are rescued by aerobic exercise. Brain Research Bulletin, 140(140), pp. 212-219. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2018.05.012


Patients receiving cytokine immunotherapy with IFN-α frequently present with neuropsychiatric consequences and cognitive impairments, including a profound depressive-like symptomatology. While the neurobiological substrates of the dysfunction that leads to adverse events in IFN-α-treated patients remains ill-defined, dysfunctions of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (PFC) are strong possibilities. To date, hippocampal deficits have been well-characterised; there does however remain a lack of insight into the nature of prefrontal participation. Here, we used a PFC-supported temporal order memory paradigm to examine if IFN-α treatment induced deficits in performance; additionally, we used an object recognition task to assess the integrity of the perirhinal cortex (PRH). Finally, the utility of exercise as an ameliorative strategy to recover temporal order deficits in rats was also explored. We found that IFN-α-treatment impaired temporal order memory discriminations, whereas recognition memory remained intact, reflecting a possible dissociation between recognition and temporal order memory processing. Further characterisation of temporal order memory impairments using a longitudinal design revealed that deficits persisted for 10 weeks following cessation of IFN-α-treatment. Finally, a 6 week forced exercise regime reversed IFN-α-induced deficits in temporal order memory.
These data provide further insight into the circuitry involved in cognitive impairments arising from IFN-α-treatment. Here we suggest that PFC (or the hippocampo-prefrontal pathway) may be compromised whilst the function of the PRH is preserved. Deficits may persist after cessation of IFN-α-treatment which suggests that extended patient monitoring is required. Aerobic exercise may be restorative and could prove beneficial for patients treated with IFN-α.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018 Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: IFN-α, Temporal Order Memory, Stress, Depression, Prefrontal Cortex, Exercise
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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