New pharmacotherapy options for chemotherapy-induced alimentary mucositis

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2014 Mar;14(3):347-54. doi: 10.1517/14712598.2014.874412. Epub 2014 Jan 6.


Introduction: Chemotherapy-induced alimentary mucositis is an extremely common condition that is caused by a breakdown of the mucosal barrier. It occurs in between 40 - 100% of cancer patients depending on the treatment regimen. Symptoms typically include pain from oral ulceration, vomiting and diarrhoea. Alimentary mucositis often necessitates chemotherapy reductions or treatment breaks, overall potentially compromising survival outcomes. Consequently, alimentary mucositis creates a burden not only on patients' quality of life but also on healthcare costs. Despite this, currently, there is no clinically effective localised/pharmacological therapy intervention strategy to prevent alimentary mucositis.

Areas covered: Over recent years, a number of novel pharmacotherapy agents have been trialed in various preclinical and clinical settings. This critical review will therefore provide an overview of emerging pharmacotherapies for the treatment of alimentary mucositis following chemotherapy with particular emphasis on studies published in the last 2 years. A Pubmed literature search was conducted to identify eligible articles published before 30 November 2013 and each article was reviewed by all authors. All articles were written in English.

Expert opinion: Currently, there is no clinically effective localised therapeutic intervention strategy to prevent the condition. New emerging areas of research have recently been proposed to play key roles in the development of alimentary mucositis and these areas may provide researchers and clinicians with new research directions. Hopefully this will continue, and evidence-based informed guidelines can be produced to improve clinical practice management of this condition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Digestive System / drug effects
  • Digestive System / pathology
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 7 / pharmacology
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 7 / therapeutic use
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / pathology
  • Honey
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Mucositis / chemically induced*
  • Mucositis / drug therapy*
  • Oils / pharmacology
  • Oils / therapeutic use
  • Zinc Sulfate / pharmacology
  • Zinc Sulfate / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Oils
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 7
  • emu Oil
  • Zinc Sulfate