Neurotoxicity of oxaliplatin and cisplatin for dorsal root ganglion neurons correlates with platinum-DNA binding

Lauren E. Ta, Laura Espeset, Jewel Podratz, Anthony J. Windebank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


Cisplatin has been in use for 40 years, primarily for treatment of ovarian and testicular cancer. Oxaliplatin is the only effective treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer. Neurotoxicity occurs in up to 30% of patients and is dose-limiting for both drugs. The neuropathy is characterized by selective sensory loss in the extremities. Cisplatin treatment is associated with high levels of Pt-DNA binding and apoptosis of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. In this study, we directly compared the effects of oxaliplatin on DRG in vitro. Compared with cisplatin, oxaliplatin formed fewer Pt-DNA adducts following 6, 12, 24, and 48 h (0.007 ng Pt/μg DNA, 0.012 ng/μg, 0.011 ng/μg, 0.011 ng/μg versus 0.014 ng/μg, 0.022 ng/μg, 0.041 ng/μg, 0.030 ng/μg), respectively. These findings closely correlated with data on cell survival where equimolar concentrations of oxaliplatin induced less cell death than cisplatin. Oxaliplatin-induced DRG death was associated with the morphological characteristics of apoptosis defined by 4′-6-diamidino-2-phenylindole and annexin/propidium iodide staining. Death was completely inhibited by the caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fmk. Our results demonstrate that both compounds cause apoptosis of DRG neurons but compared to cisplatin, oxaliplatin forms fewer Pt-DNA adducts and is less neurotoxic to DRG neurons in vitro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)992-1002
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell survival
  • Platinum-nuclear binding
  • z-VAD-fmk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology


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