Amelioration of vincristine neurotoxicity by glutamic acid

Am J Med. 1988 Jun;84(6):1016-22. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(88)90306-3.


Neurotoxicity is the principal limiting side effect of the widely used antitumor agent, vincristine. Following evaluation of glutamic acid as a potential modifier of vincristine toxicity in preclinical studies in mice and a preliminary clinical trial, a prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial was conducted by the Piedmont Oncology Association. Of 87 patients entered into the study, 84 were evaluable, including 42 patients who were randomly assigned to receive vincristine 1.0 mg/m2 weekly for six doses and 42 patients who were assigned to receive glutamic acid 500 mg orally three times daily plus vincristine. The following neurotoxic signs and symptoms were evaluated before each dose of vincristine: reflex changes, paresthesias, constipation, strength, and mental changes. Loss of the Achilles tendon reflex, an objective parameter, was noted in 19 percent of patients receiving glutamic acid and 42 percent of control subjects (p = 0.03). Development of moderate to severe paresthesias, a subjective parameter, occurred in 19 percent of the glutamic acid group and 36 percent of the placebo group (p = 0.09). Overall moderate neurotoxicity (6 units or more), determined by adding the grade of each neurotoxic parameter for the weekly clinic visit in which maximum neurotoxicity occurred, was observed in 21 percent of patients receiving glutamic acid and 43 percent of those in the control group (p = 0.04). Hematologic and gastrointestinal side effects occurred with similar frequency in the two groups. The administration of glutamic acid has decreased vincristine-induced neurotoxicity without any attendant side effects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Constipation / chemically induced
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glutamates / administration & dosage*
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Humans
  • Mental Processes / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Paresthesia / chemically induced
  • Prospective Studies
  • Random Allocation
  • Reflex / drug effects
  • Vincristine / administration & dosage
  • Vincristine / adverse effects*
  • Vincristine / therapeutic use


  • Glutamates
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Vincristine