Efficacy of Physical Exercise to Offset Anthracycline‐Induced Cardiotoxicity: A Systematic Review and Meta‐Analysis of Clinical and Preclinical Studies

Willeke R. Naaktgeboren, David Binyam, Martijn M. Stuiver, Neil K. Aaronson, Arco J. Teske, Wim H. van Harten, Wim G. Groen, Anne M. May

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Physical exercise is an intervention that might protect against doxorubicin‐induced cardiotoxicity. In this meta‐analysis and systematic review, we aimed to estimate the effect of exercise on doxorubicin‐induced cardiotoxicity and to evaluate mechanisms underlying exercise‐mediated cardioprotection using (pre)clinical evidence.

Methods and Results
We conducted a systematic search in PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) databases. Cochrane's and Systematic Review Centre for Laboratory Animal Experimentation (SYRCLE) risk‐of‐bias tools were used to assess the validity of human and animal studies, respectively. Cardiotoxicity outcomes reported by ≥3 studies were pooled and structured around the type of exercise intervention. Forty articles were included, of which 3 were clinical studies. Overall, in humans (sample sizes ranging from 24 to 61), results were indicative of exercise‐mediated cardioprotection, yet they were not sufficient to establish whether physical exercise protects against doxorubicin‐induced cardiotoxicity. In animal studies (n=37), a pooled analysis demonstrated that forced exercise interventions significantly mitigated in vivo and ex vivo doxorubicin‐induced cardiotoxicity compared with nonexercised controls. Similar yet slightly smaller effects were found for voluntary exercise interventions. We identified oxidative stress and related pathways, and less doxorubicin accumulation as mechanisms underlying exercise‐induced cardioprotection, of which the latter could act as an overarching mechanism.

Animal studies indicate that various exercise interventions can protect against doxorubicin‐induced cardiotoxicity in rodents. Less doxorubicin accumulation in cardiac tissue could be a key underlying mechanism. Given the preclinical evidence and limited availability of clinical data, larger and methodologically rigorous clinical studies are needed to clarify the role of physical exercise in preventing cardiotoxicity in patients with cancer.

URL: https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero; Unique identifier: CRD42019118218.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere021580
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2021


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