Paclitaxel neurotoxicity: clinical and neurophysiological study of 23 patients

Ital J Neurol Sci. 1997 Apr;18(2):73-9. doi: 10.1007/BF01999566.


Paclitaxel is the prototype of a new class of chemotherapeutic agents with an antimitotic effect that is related to its ability to interfere with the microtubule system. It causes peripheral neurological toxicity by means of its activity on the axonal microtubules. To define the clinical and neurophysiological characteristics of paclitaxel neuropathy 23 patients undergoing paclitaxel therapy at a dose of 175 mg/m2 were studied. The patients were divided into two groups, with only one group receiving pretreatment with potentially neurotoxic drugs such as cisplatin and carboplatin. The results showed a high incidence of mild neurotoxicity in both groups. Treatment was discontinued due to severe neurotoxicity in only one patient pretreated with platinum-compounds. The clinical and neurophysiological data make it possible to define paclitaxel neurotoxicity as a distal axonal neuropathy with a summatory effect in patients pretreated with cisplatin; the possible reversibility of paclitaxel neurotoxicity requires further confirmation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Weakness / chemically induced
  • Nervous System / drug effects
  • Neurotoxins / adverse effects*
  • Paclitaxel / adverse effects*
  • Sural Nerve / drug effects


  • Neurotoxins
  • Paclitaxel