NIH Research Festival
Stress related to cancer and its treatments is commonly experienced by cancer survivors. When cancer-related stress becomes overwhelming, it can negatively affect various bodily processes and quality of life. A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), called rs6265, is known to contribute to the inter-individual perception of psychoneurological (PN) symptoms in cancer survivors. Given the roles of BDNF in neurotransmitter modulation and of rs6265 in PN symptom perception, we hypothesize that rs6265 can also influence inter-individual stress perception in cancer survivors, which can vary between cancer types. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) was used to assess stress scores of 413 breast cancer and colorectal cancer survivors. Buccal swabs were used to obtain genotypes for BDNF rs6265 (Val/Val, Val/Met, or Met/Met). PSS scores were compared across genotypes and between cancer types. The study results showed no significant relationship between the presence of the BDNF Val/Met rs6265 polymorphism and perceived stress in cancer survivors. Among Val/Val homozygotes, but not among those with the Met allele, the results revealed higher perceived stress scores among colorectal cancer survivors compared to breast cancer survivors. This suggests that carrying the Met allele may have a mitigating effect on stress perception among colorectal cancer survivors. Risk identification for long term toxicities related to cancer and its treatment is critical to provide precise and optimal supportive care to cancer survivors.
Scientific Focus Area: Clinical Research
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