, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 279-287

Management of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy

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Abstract

Recent advances in the development and administration of chemotherapy for malignant diseases have been rewarded with prolonged survival rates. The cost of progress has come at a price and the nervous system is frequently the target of chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicity. Unlike more immediate toxicities that effect the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow, chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicity is frequently delayed in onset and may progress over time. In the peripheral nervous system, the major brunt of the toxicity is directed against the peripheral nerve, resulting in chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). Chemotherapeutic agents used to treat hematologic and solid tumors target a variety of structures and functions in the peripheral nervous system, including the neuronal cell body, the axonal transport system, the myelin sheath, and glial support structures. Each agent exhibits a spectrum of toxic effects unique to its mechanism of toxic injury, and recent study in this field has yielded clearer ideas on how to mitigate injury. Combined with the call for a greater recognition of the potentially devastating ramifications of CIPN on quality of life, basic and clinical researchers have begun to investigate therapy to prevent neurotoxic injury. Preliminary studies have shown promise for some agents including glutamine, glutathione, vitamin E, acetyl-L-carnitine, calcium, and magnesium infusions, but final recommendations await prospective confirmatory studies.