Evaluation of neuropathy in patients on suramin treatment

Muscle Nerve. 1997 Jan;20(1):83-91. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-4598(199701)20:1<83::aid-mus11>3.0.co;2-2.


Suramin, a promising chemotherapeutic agent, causes a dose-limiting sensorimotor polyneuropathy. We undertook a phase 1 study of suramin that included serial neurologic and electrophysiologic examinations as part of the safety evaluation. We found that 6 of 41 (15%) patients developed suramin-induced demyelinating neuropathy which resembled Guillain-Barre syndrome clinically. There was 1 asymptomatic patient with electrophysiologic abnormalities suggestive of a demyelinating neuropathy. In addition, 1 patient with mild axonal neuropathy at baseline had deterioration of his symptoms during suramin treatment. Four asymptomatic patients developed electrophysiologic findings suggestive of a mild axonal neuropathy. We conclude that: (1) serial electrophysiologic monitoring is helpful for early detection of suramin-induced neuropathy; and (2) fixed dosing schedule of suramin without adaptive control does not lead to an increased incidence of demyelinating neuropathy when compared to adaptively controlled dosing schedules.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Demyelinating Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Neuron Disease / chemically induced*
  • Neural Conduction / physiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Suramin / adverse effects*
  • Suramin / therapeutic use


  • Suramin