Hypothermia for preventing chemotherapy-induced neuropathy - A pilot study on safety and tolerability in healthy controls

Aishwarya Bandla, Raghav Sundar, Lun De Liao, Stacey Sze Hui Tan, Soo Chin Lee, Nitish V. Thakor, Einar P.V. Wilder-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a major dose-limiting side effect of several chemotherapeutic agents, often leading to treatment discontinuation. Up to 20% of patients treated with weekly paclitaxel experience severe CIPN and no effective treatment has been established so far. The mechanisms of CIPN damage are unclear, but are directly dose-related. We had earlier demonstrated, in rats, the influence of hypothermia in reducing nerve blood flow. Here, we hypothesize that continuous flow limb hypothermia during chemotherapy reduces the incidence and severity of CIPN, by limiting deliverance of the neurotoxic drug to the peripheral nerves. In this study, prior to assessing the effect of hypothermia in preventing CIPN in cancer subjects undergoing paclitaxel chemotherapy, we assess the safety and tolerable temperatures for limb hypothermia in healthy human subjects. Material and methods: In 15 healthy human subjects, hypothermia was administered as continuous flow cooling, unilaterally, via a thermoregulator setup covering the digits up to the elbow/knee, along with continuous skin temperature monitoring. Thermoregulator coolant temperatures between 25 °C and 20 °C were tested for tolerability, based on a carefully designed temperature regulation protocol, and maintained for three hours mimicking the duration of chemotherapy. Tolerability was evaluated using various safety and tolerability scores to monitor the subjects. Results: At the end of the cooling session the healthy subjects presented without significant adverse effects, the main being brief mild skin erythema and transient numbness. Coolant temperatures as low as 22 °C were well tolerated continuously over three hours. Conclusion: Our results confirm the safety and tolerability of continuous flow limb hypothermia in healthy subjects. Further studies will use 22 °C thermoregulator temperature to investigate hypothermia in preventing CIPN in breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant weekly paclitaxel. This pilot study may contribute to alleviating chemotherapy dose limitation due to CIPN and increase the likelihood of success of chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-436
Number of pages7
JournalActa Oncologica
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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