Ion channels and neuronal hyperexcitability in chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy; cause and effect?

Mol Pain. Jan-Dec 2017;13:1744806917714693. doi: 10.1177/1744806917714693.


Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide and is a major global health burden. Significant improvements in survival have been achieved, due in part to advances in adjuvant antineoplastic chemotherapy. The most commonly used antineoplastics belong to the taxane, platinum, and vinca alkaloid families. While beneficial, these agents are frequently accompanied by severe side effects, including chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CPIN). While CPIN affects both motor and sensory systems, the majority of symptoms are sensory, with pain, tingling, and numbness being the predominant complaints. CPIN not only decreases the quality of life of cancer survivors but also can lead to discontinuation of treatment, thereby adversely affecting survival. Consequently, minimizing the incidence or severity of CPIN is highly desirable, but strategies to prevent and/or treat CIPN have proven elusive. One difficulty in achieving this goal arises from the fact that the molecular and cellular mechanisms that produce CPIN are not fully known; however, one common mechanism appears to be changes in ion channel expression in primary afferent sensory neurons. The processes that underlie chemotherapy-induced changes in ion channel expression and function are poorly understood. Not all antineoplastic agents directly affect ion channel function, suggesting additional pathways may contribute to the development of CPIN Indeed, there are indications that these drugs may mediate their effects through cellular signaling pathways including second messengers and inflammatory cytokines. Here, we focus on ion channelopathies as causal mechanisms for CPIN and review the data from both pre-clinical animal models and from human studies with the aim of facilitating the development of appropriate strategies to prevent and/or treat CPIN.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bridged-Ring Compounds / adverse effects*
  • Bridged-Ring Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Ion Channels / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Pain / etiology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Taxoids / adverse effects*
  • Taxoids / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Bridged-Ring Compounds
  • Ion Channels
  • Taxoids
  • taxane