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Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 13–21 | Cite as

Revisiting the physiology of nausea and vomiting—challenging the paradigm

  • Rita J. WickhamEmail author
Review Article
  • 283 Downloads

Abstract

Purpose

The predominant neurotransmitters and receptors for acute and delayed chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) are represented in the current paradigm, which reflects successful control of emesis. However, control of nausea (N) lags behind management of vomiting (V). This review aims to re-examine and incorporate new information about the mechanisms of V and N.

Methods

The initial literature search focused on CINV. Keywords in articles led to subsequent discovery of publications focused on N&V in other medical and scientific fields (e.g., gastroenterology, neurology, cannabinoid science, neuropharmacology, and motion sickness). Using keywords to identify other sources continued until no further recent, meaningful publications were found.

Results

More than 86% of references were from recent non-oncology journals and books, suggesting there are many areas for cross-fertilization research into mechanisms and management of N&V—particularly of N, which involves overlapping and dissimilar CNS areas from V. Information from cited articles was incorporated into visual representation of N&V, which is certainly not exhaustive but supports highly complex processes in the stomach and gut, the vagus nerve and spinal cord neurons, the nucleus tractus solitarii, and the anterior insular cortex and anterior cingulate cortex with input from the amygdala.

Conclusions

These data support the idea that mechanisms for N, whatever the cause, must be highly similar. Continued research into nausea, including patient-reported evaluation and outcomes, is important; interventions for nausea could be considered adjuvants to current standard of care antiemetics and be individualized, depending on patient-reported efficacy and adverse effects and preferences.

Keywords

Nausea Vomiting Gut-brain axis Insular cortex Interoception 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Rita J. Wickham has received speaker’s honoraria from Insys Therapeutics and advisory board compensation from Helsinn Healthcare SA. There is no primary data associated with this manuscript.

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rush University College of NursingRapid RiverUSA

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