Toxic neuropathies

Neurol India. Nov-Dec 2009;57(6):697-705. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.59463.


Toxic neuropathies generally result in length dependent axonal neuropathy with the exception of diphtheria and a few toxic neuropathies. In spite of occurrence of diphtheria in India there is paucity of published reports on diphtheritic neuropathy. Arsenic neuropathy commonly occurs in Bengal and Bangladesh because of ground water contamination whereas in Punjab it is due to contamination of opium. Lead neuropathy is rare and has been reported in battery workers and silver refining workers. It produces motor neuropathy resulting in foot drop and wrist drop. Organophosphates are used as pesticides, industrial chemicals and food adulterant. Certain organophosphates such as triorthocresyl phosphate used for or oil adulteration inhibit neurotoxic esterase and result in a delayed type of axonal neuropathy. Alcohol related neuropathy is a controversial issue whether it is due to alcohol related toxicity or due to nutritional deficiencies. Indian studies have revealed that neuropathy occurs both in alcoholic and nonalcoholic cirrhosis. Hexane neuropathy is reported in screen printers and these cases highlight the need for better preventive and occupational measures. Iatrogenic toxic neuropathies have been reported with cisplatin and vincristine. Because of geographical, occupational and health related conditions toxic neuropathies are likely to be more common than reported and greater awareness is needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / etiology*
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / pathology
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Neurotoxins / toxicity*
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / toxicity
  • Soil Pollutants / toxicity
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity


  • Neurotoxins
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical