Adjuvant anthracycline chemotherapy for breast cancer is associated with cardiotoxicity and reduced cardiorespiratory fitness (V˙O2peak).
We evaluated the impact of anthracyclines on left ventricular function and myocardial tissue characteristics using cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging to determine their relationship with V˙O2peak.
Women with breast cancer who had not yet received treatment (No-AT, n = 16) and had received anthracycline treatment ~1 yr earlier (Post-AT, n = 16) and controls without cancer (CON, n = 16) performed a maximal exercise test and a comprehensive 3T CMR examination, including native myocardial T1 mapping, where elevated T1 times are indicative of myocardial fibrosis. ANOVA and linear regression were used to compare CMR variables between groups and to determine associations with V˙O2peak. Subgroup analysis was performed by categorizing participants as “fit” or “unfit” based on whether their V˙O2peak value was greater or less than 100% of reference value for age, respectively.
Left ventricular end-diastolic volume, ejection fraction, and mass were similar between groups. Post-AT, T1 times were elevated (1534 ± 32 vs 1503 ± 28 ms, P < 0.01), and V˙O2peak was reduced (23.1 ± 7.5 vs 29.5 ± 7.7 mL·kg−1⋅min−1, P = 0.02) compared with CON. In No-AT, T1 times and V˙O2peak were similar to CON. In the Post-AT group, T1 time was associated with V˙O2peak (R2 = 64%), whereas in the absence of anthracyclines (i.e., No-AT and CON groups), T1 time was not associated with V˙O2peak. Regardless of group, all fit women had similar T1 times, whereas unfit women Post-AT had higher T1 than unfit CON (1546 ± 22 vs 1500 ± 33 ms, P < 0.01).
After anthracycline chemotherapy, an elevated T1 time suggesting greater extent of myocardial fibrosis, was associated with lower V˙O2peak. However, those who were fit did not have evidence of myocardial fibrosis after anthracycline treatment.