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Acta Oncol. 1996;35(6):659-63.

Pathogenesis of irradiation-induced cognitive dysfunction.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Howard University Hospital, Washington, D.C., USA.


Neurocognitive dysfunction is a common sequela of cranial irradiation that is especially severe in young children. The underlying mechanisms of this disorder have not been described. The present review describes the role of the hippocampus and the anatomically related cortex in memory function and its marked susceptibility to ischemic and hypoxic injury. Based on studies of animal models of human amnesia and histopathological findings in the irradiated brain, the neurocognitive sequela of cranial irradiation can be seen to be mediated through vascular injury, resulting in ischemia and hypoxia in the hippocampal region. Recognition of the site and mechanisms of this injury may lead to the development of techniques to minimize the risks.

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