Neurotoxicity of Taxol

J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 1993;(15):107-15.


Neurotoxicity, manifested primarily by a motor and sensory polyneuropathy, is the principal nonhematological side effect of Taxol. Available evidence suggests that Taxol produces a toxic effect involving either axons or ganglion cell bodies, or both, rather than a myelinopathy. As with other toxic polyneuropathies, patients with preexisting peripheral neuropathies, such as those caused by diabetes mellitus or ethanol, appear to be particularly predisposed to developing neurological toxicity. The incidence and severity of the neuropathic manifestations also appear to be related to the Taxol dose level, the cumulative dose of Taxol, and possibly to the use of Taxol in combination with cisplatin. Rarely, manifestations of autonomic and central nervous system dysfunction occur. Taxol also induces myalgias in the peri-treatment period, especially when used in high doses, and a myopathy has been noted in patients treated with high doses of Taxol administered alone and in combination with cisplatin. Although dose-response relationships for Taxol have not been clearly established, these neuromuscular effects are likely to become a significant clinical problem if higher doses of Taxol are used with hematopoietic colony-stimulating factors. The neuromuscular effects of Taxol, including symptoms, physical and electrophysiological manifestations, and predisposing factors, as well as agents that may be used for neuroprotection, are discussed in this report.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Motor Neuron Disease / chemically induced
  • Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage
  • Paclitaxel / adverse effects*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced


  • Paclitaxel