Neurotoxicity in oncology: Is neuroprotection (NP) attainable? A critical review

Vidmer Scaioli, Andrea Salmaggi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The remarkable advances in drug develompment and strategy in oncology have greatly contributed to improve the survival rates of cancer; hovewer they have also raised questions on ethics about quality of life of the patients. One of the emerging practical issues in cancer therapy is that neurological side effects represent more often one of the most common and threatening side effects and dose limiting factors in cancer treatment. In this review we have first tried to characterise the neurological side effects, either systemic or sporadic. The systematic side effects are represented by peripheral neuropathy and by the ocular manifestations optic neuritis and retinopathy. The sporadic side effects enbody a wider range of neurological manifestations spanning from encephalitis, to seizures, to atypical onset neuropathy and peripheral nervous system complications. It is worth mentioning the relevance of studying even the sporadic side effects because the search of the mechanisms of the pathogenetic events can reveal congenital predisposing factors that can be diagnosed before the beginning of the therapy and that can improve the strategy of treatment. Secondly, we have offered an open rewiev of the scoring systems, that is the either clinical, subjective or objective ways to score the side effects and quantitative methods; the latter are particularly useful in order to characterise in a quantitative way the effect of neuroprotection. Thirdly, we have reviewed the classic, still widely used, drugs, responsible for the systematic or sporadic side effects. Fourthly, the strategy of neuroprotection has been widely analysed, together with the expected clinical outcome, and what is already defined and what is still in progress, but nonetheless deserves verification or validation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-167
Number of pages17
JournalRivista Italiana di Neurobiologia
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Chemiotherapy
  • Neuroprotection
  • Optic neuropathy
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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