An evaluation of the effect of lithium on taxane-induced neuropathy

David C. Kochan, Paul J. Novotny, Elizabeth J. Cathcart-Rake, Jacob J. Orme, Amye J. Tevaarwerk, Kathryn J. Ruddy, Daniel S. Childs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: No medications are known to protect against chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). Pre-clinical models suggest that lithium may lessen taxane-induced neuropathy. Our aim was to use clinical data to assess whether concurrent lithium usage decreased the frequency or severity of CIPN in patients receiving taxane chemotherapy. Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed using the electronic health record at Mayo Clinic to identify all patients prescribed concurrent lithium and paclitaxel. Four controls were matched to each case based on clinical variables. Neuropathy severity was graded from available patient and clinician reports. Rates of any neuropathy, dose reduction for CIPN, and treatment discontinuation for CIPN were compared. Conditional regression analysis was performed with propensity score matching. Results: Six patients, receiving concurrent lithium and paclitaxel, were included in the analysis, and compared to 24 control cases. A similar number of paclitaxel cycles were administered to both groups. Any neuropathy was experienced by 33% (2/6) of patients receiving lithium and 38% (9/24) patients who did not receive lithium (p = 1.000). There was no difference in neuropathy severity (p = 0.8565), rate of chemotherapy dose reduction (17% vs. 17%, p = 1.000), or treatment discontinuation (17% vs 4%, p = 0.3655) for CIPN. In the propensity score analysis, the odds ratio for developing any neuropathy was 0.63 (95% confidence interval, 0.06 to 6.96, p = 0.7079). Conclusions: Lithium does not appear to significantly lessen the risk of neuropathy for patients receiving paclitaxel. Implications for Cancer Survivors: Targeted approaches for preventing CIPN are desperately needed. Despite sound scientific rationale, the current study did not identify neuroprotective properties of lithium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number299
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • CIPN
  • Calpain
  • Chemotherapy
  • Lithium
  • Neuropathy
  • Paclitaxel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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