Objective: The clinical use of cisplatin chemotherapy is limited by severe peripheral neurotoxicity reported in up to 90% of patients receiving a cumulative dose higher than 300 mg/m(2). The present study evaluates the neuroprotective effect of antioxidant supplementation (vitamin E) in patients treated with cisplatin chemotherapy.
Methods: A total of 108 patients treated with cisplatin chemotherapy were randomly assigned to receive vitamin E supplementation (alpha-tocopherol 400 mg/day) or placebo. Treatment was started orally before chemotherapy and continued for 3 months after the suspension of cisplatin.
Results: Of 108 randomized patients, 68 received at least one clinical and neurophysiologic examination after cisplatin CT; 41 patients received a cumulative dose of cisplatin higher than 300 mg/m(2) and were eligible for statistical analysis: 17 in the vitamin E group (group 1) and 24 in the placebo group (group 2). The incidence of neurotoxicity was significantly lower in group 1 (5.9%) than in group 2 (41.7%) (p < 0.01). The severity of neurotoxicity, measured with a validated neurotoxicity score (Total Neuropathy Score [TNS]), was significantly lower in patients receiving vitamin E than those receiving placebo (mean TNS 1.4 vs 4.1; p < 0.01).
Conclusions: This phase III study confirms the neuroprotective role of vitamin E against cisplatin peripheral neurotoxicity. Vitamin E supplementation should be adopted in patients receiving cisplatin-based chemotherapy.
Classification of evidence: This study provides Class II evidence that vitamin E supplementation significantly reduces the relative risk of developing signs or symptoms of neurotoxicity (relative risk = 0.14) (95% confidence interval = 0.02-1.00, p < 0.05).