Fatigue and Oxidative Stress in Children Undergoing Leukemia Treatment

Cheryl Rodgers, Chelse Sanborn, Olga Taylor, Patricia Gundy, Alice Pasvogel, Ida M.(Ki) Moore, Marilyn J. Hockenberry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Fatigue is a frequent and distressing symptom in children undergoing leukemia treatment; however, little is known about factors influencing this symptom. Antioxidants such as glutathione can decrease symptom severity in adult oncology patients, but no study has evaluated antioxidants’ effects on symptoms in pediatric oncology patients. This study describes fatigue patterns and associations of fatigue with antioxidants represented by reduced glutathione (GSH) and the reduced/oxidized glutathione (GSH/GSSG) ratio among children receiving leukemia treatment. A repeated measures design assessed fatigue and antioxidants among 38 children from two large U.S. cancer centers. Fatigue was assessed among school-age children and by parent proxy among young children. Antioxidants (GSH and GSH/GSSG ratio) were assessed from cerebrospinal fluid at four phases during leukemia treatment. Young children had a steady decline of fatigue from the end of induction treatment through the continuation phase of treatment, but no significant changes were noted among the school-age children. Mean antioxidant scores varied slightly over time; however, the GSH/GSSG ratios in these children were significantly lower than the normal ratio. Mean GSH/GSSG ratios significantly correlated to fatigue scores of the school-age children during early phases of treatment. Children with low mean GSH/GSSG ratios demonstrated oxidative stress. The low ratios noted early in therapy were significantly correlated with higher fatigue scores during induction and postinduction treatment phases. This finding suggests that increased oxidative stress during the more intensive phases of therapy may explain the experience of fatigue children report.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-520
Number of pages6
JournalBiological research for nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • fatigue
  • leukemia
  • oxidative stress
  • pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory


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