Detecting acute neurotoxicity during platinum chemotherapy by neurophysiological assessment of motor nerve hyperexcitability

Cancer Clinical Pharmacology Research Group, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
BMC Cancer (Impact Factor: 3.36). 08/2010; 10(1):451. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2407-10-451
Source: PubMed


Platinum-based drugs, such as cisplatin and oxaliplatin, are well-known for inducing chronic sensory neuropathies but their acute and motor neurotoxicities are less well characterised. Use was made of nerve conduction studies and needle electromyography (EMG) to assess motor nerve excitability in cancer patients during their first treatment cycle with platinum-based chemotherapy in this study.
Twenty-nine adult cancer patients had a neurophysiological assessment either before oxaliplatin plus capecitabine, on days 2 to 4 or 14 to 20 after oxaliplatin plus capecitabine, or on days 2 to 4 after carboplatin plus paclitaxel or cisplatin, undertaken by a neurophysiologist who was blinded to patient and treatment details. Patients completed a symptom questionnaire at the end of the treatment cycle.
Abnormal spontaneous high frequency motor fibre action potentials were detected in 100% of patients (n = 6) and 72% of muscles (n = 22) on days 2 to 4 post-oxaliplatin, and in 25% of patients (n = 8) and 13% of muscles (n = 32) on days 14 to 20 post-oxaliplatin, but in none of the patients (n = 14) or muscles (n = 56) tested prior to oxaliplatin or on days 2 to 4 after carboplatin plus paclitaxel or cisplatin. Repetitive compound motor action potentials were less sensitive and less specific than spontaneous high frequency motor fibre action potentials for detection of acute oxaliplatin-induced motor nerve hyperexcitability but were present in 71% of patients (n = 7) and 32% of muscles (n = 32) on days 2 to 4 after oxaliplatin treatment. Acute neurotoxicity symptoms, most commonly cold-induced paraesthesiae and jaw or throat tightness, were reported by all patients treated with oxaliplatin (n = 22) and none of those treated with carboplatin plus paclitaxel or cisplatin (n = 6).
Abnormal spontaneous high frequency motor fibre activity is a sensitive and specific endpoint of acute oxaliplatin-induced motor nerve hyperexcitability, detectable on EMG on days 2 to 4 post-treatment. Objective EMG assessment of motor nerve excitability could compliment patient-reported symptomatic endpoints of acute oxaliplatin-induced neurotoxicity in future studies.

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    • "The differences reported in Table 3 between groups with normal and abnormal CMAP amplitudes on chemotherapy type are likely due to the fact that oxaliplatin is much more likely to cause motor nerve changes acutely compared to other agents (Hill et al., 2010; Burakgazi et al., 2011). This difference is not evident with SAP amplitudes, where sensory effects occur more consistently, regardless of agent. "
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