Anti-neoplastic agents in the platinum-complex, taxane, vinca alkaloid, and proteasome-inhibitor classes induce a dose-limiting, chronic, distal, symmetrical, sensory peripheral neuropathy that is often accompanied by neuropathic pain. Clinical descriptions suggest that these conditions are very similar, but clinical data are insufficient to determine the degree of similarity and to determine if they share common pathophysiological mechanisms. Animal models do not have the limitations of clinical studies and so we have characterized a rat model of chronic painful peripheral neuropathy induced by a platinum-complex agent, oxaliplatin, in order to compare it with a previously characterized model of chronic painful peripheral neuropathy induced by a taxane agent, paclitaxel. The oxaliplatin model evokes mechano-allodynia, mechano-hyperalgesia, and cold-allodynia that have a delayed onset, gradually increasing severity, a distinct delay to peak severity, and duration of about 2.5 months. There is no effect on heat sensitivity. Electron microscopy (EM) analyses found no evidence for axonal degeneration in peripheral nerve, and there is no upregulation of activating transcription factor-3 in the lumbar dorsal root ganglia. There is a statistically significant loss of intraepidermal nerve fibers in the plantar hind paw skin. Oxaliplatin treatment causes a significant increase in the incidence of swollen and vacuolated mitochondria in peripheral nerve axons, but not in their Schwann cells. Nerve conduction studies found significant slowing of sensory axons, but no change in motor axons. Single fiber recordings found an abnormal incidence of A- and C-fibers with irregular, low-frequency spontaneous discharge. Prophylactic dosing with two drugs that are known to protect mitochondria, acetyl-l-carnitine and olesoxime, significantly reduced the development of pain hypersensitivity. Our results are very similar to those obtained previously with paclitaxel, and support the hypothesis that these two agents, and perhaps other chemotherapeutics, produce very similar conditions because they have a mitotoxic effect on primary afferent neurons.
Copyright © 2011 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.