Peripheral neuropathy induced by microtubule-targeted chemotherapies: Insights into acute injury and long-term recovery

Krystyna M. Wozniak, James J. Vornov, Ying Wu, Ying Liu, Valentina A. Carozzi, Virginia Rodriguez-Menendez, Elisa Ballarini, Paola Alberti, Eleonora Pozzi, Sara Semperboni, Brett M. Cook, Bruce A. Littlefield, Kenichi Nomoto, Krista Condon, Sean Eckley, Christopher DesJardins, Leslie Wilson, Mary A. Jordan, Stuart C. Feinstein, Guido CavalettiMichael Polydefkis, Barbara S. Slusher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a major cause of disability in cancer survivors. CIPN investigations in preclinical model systems have focused on either behaviors or acute changes in nerve conduction velocity (NCV) and amplitude, but greater understanding of the underlying nature of axonal injury and its long-term processes is needed as cancer patients live longer. In this study, we used multiple independent endpoints to systematically characterize CIPN recovery in mice exposed to the antitubulin cancer drugs eribulin, ixabepilone, paclitaxel, or vinorelbine at MTDs. All of the drugs ablated intraepidermal nerve fibers and produced axonopathy, with a secondary disruption in myelin structure within 2 weeks of drug administration. In addition, all of the drugs reduced sensory NCV and amplitude, with greater deficits after paclitaxel and lesser deficits after ixabepilone. These effects correlated with degeneration in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and sciatic nerve and abundance of Schwann cells. Although most injuries were fully reversible after 3–6 months after administration of eribulin, vinorelbine, and ixabepilone, we observed delayed recovery after paclitaxel that produced a more severe, pervasive, and prolonged neurotoxicity. Compared with other agents, paclitaxel also displayed a unique prolonged exposure in sciatic nerve and DRG. The most sensitive indicator of toxicity was axonopathy and secondary myelin changes accompanied by a reduction in intraepidermal nerve fiber density. Taken together, our findings suggest that intraepidermal nerve fiber density and changes in NCV and amplitude might provide measures of axonal injury to guide clinical practice. Significance: This detailed preclinical study of the long-term effects of widely used antitubulin cancer drugs on the peripheral nervous system may help guide clinical evaluations to improve personalized care in limiting neurotoxicity in cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)817-829
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Peripheral neuropathy induced by microtubule-targeted chemotherapies: Insights into acute injury and long-term recovery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this