Introduction: Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is the most debilitating symptom with the greatest adverse side effect on quality of life. The etiology of this symptom is still not understood. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between mitochondrial gene expression, mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, electron transport chain complex activity, and fatigue in prostate cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy (XRT), compared to patients on active surveillance (AS). Methods: The study used a matched case–control and repeated-measures research design. Fatigue was measured using the revised Piper Fatigue Scale from 52 patients with prostate cancer. Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, electron-transport chain enzymatic activity, and BCS1L gene expression were determined using patients’ peripheral mononuclear cells. Data were collected at three time points and analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA. Results: The fatigue score was significantly different over time between patients undergoing XRT and AS (P<0.05). Patients undergoing XRT experienced significantly increased fatigue at day 21 and day 42 of XRT (P<0.01). Downregulated mitochondrial gene (BC1, ubiquinol-cytochrome c reductase, synthesis-like, BCS1L, P<0.05) expression, decreased OXPHOS-complex III oxidation (P<0.05), and reduced activity of complex III were observed over time in patients with XRT. Moreover, increased fatigue was significantly associated with downregulated BCS1L and decreased complex III oxidation in patients undergoing XRT. Conclusion: Our results suggest that BCS1L and complex III in mitochondrial mononuclear cells are potential biomarkers and feasible therapeutic targets for acute XRT-induced fatigue in this clinical population.
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