Cognitive Functioning in Survivors of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Compared With a Matched General Population Sample—The Maastricht Observational Study of Late Effects After Stem Cell trAnsplantation Study

B. Wauben*, M. W. M. van der Poel, M. M. J. Greevenbroek, N. C. van Yperen, M. T. Schram, M. P. J. van Boxtel, M. Sastry, S. O. Simons, C. D. A. Stehouwer, P. C. Dagnelie, A. Wesselius, H. C. Schouten, S. Köhler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Although cognitive problems can recover over time, a subgroup of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) survivors experience persistent cognitive problems in the long term. Despite these implications, studies assessing cognitive functioning in HCT survivors are limited. The aim of the present study was (1) to quantify the prevalence of cognitive impairment in patients treated with HCT who survived at least 2 years and to compare these with a matched reference group representing the general population; (2) to identify potential determinants of cognitive functioning within the HCT survivor group. Within the single-center Maastricht Observational study of late effects after Stem cell trAnsplantation, cognitive performance was assessed by a neuropsychological test battery divided into 3 cognitive domains: memory, information processing speed, and executive function and attention. An overall cognition score was calculated as the average of the domain scores. A total of 115 HCT survivors were group-matched on a 1:4 ratio to the reference group by age, sex, and level of education. Regression analyses adjusted for different sets of covariates including demographic and health- and lifestyle-related factors were used to test for differences in cognition between HCT survivors and the reference group resembling the general population. A limited set of clinical characteristics (diagnosis, type of transplant, time since treatment, conditioning regimen with total body irradiation and age at time of transplantation) were assessed as potential determinants of neurocognitive dysfunction among HCT survivors. Cognitive impairment was defined as scores in the cognitive domains < −1.5 standard deviation (SD) from what can be expected based on someone's age, sex, and education. The mean age at time of transplantation was 50.2 (SD ± 11.2) years, and the mean number of years after transplant was 8.7 (SD ± 5.7) years. The majority of HCT survivors were treated with autologous HCT (n = 73 [64%]). The prevalence of cognitive dysfunction was 34.8% in HCT survivors and 21.3% in the reference group (p =.002.) When adjusted for age, sex, and level of education, HCT survivors had a worse overall cognition score (b = −0.35; 95% confidence interval [CI], −0.55 to −0.16; p <.001), translating into 9.0 years of higher cognitive age. Analyses of specific cognitive domain scores showed that HCT survivors scored worse on memory (b = −0.43; 95% CI, −0.73 to −0.13; p =.005), information processing speed (b = −0.33; 95% CI, −0.55 to −0.11; p =.003), and executive function and attention (b = −0.29; 95% CI, −.55 to −.03; p =.031) than the reference group. The odds of cognitive impairment were on average 2.4 times higher among HCT survivors than the reference group (odd ratio = 2.44; 95% CI, 1.47-4.07; p =.001). Within the HCT survivor group none of the tested clinical determinants of cognitive impairment were significantly associated with cognition. This cohort study showed evidence for worse cognitive functioning in HCT survivors encompassing all three cognitive domains, respectively memory, information processing speed, and executive and attention compared to a reference group that represents the general population translating into nine years of faster cognitive ageing in HCT survivors than can be expected based on their chronological age. It is important to increase awareness for signs of neurocognitive dysfunction after HCT in clinicians and HCT survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468.e1-468.e8
Number of pages8
JournalTransplantation and Cellular Therapy
Volume29
Issue number7
Early online date24 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

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