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Rational treatment of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy with capsaicin 8% patch: from pain relief towards disease modification

Authors Anand P, Elsafa E, Privitera R, Naidoo K, Yiangou Y, Donatien P, Gabra H, Wasan H, Kenny L, Rahemtulla A, Misra P

Received 30 April 2019

Accepted for publication 13 June 2019

Published 3 July 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 2039—2052


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael A Überall

Praveen Anand,1 Enas Elsafa,1 Rosario Privitera,1 Kalnisha Naidoo,1 Yiangos Yiangou,1 Philippe Donatien,1 Hani Gabra,2 Harpreet Wasan,2 Laura Kenny,2 Amin Rahemtulla,3 Peter Misra1

1Department of Neurology; 2Medical Oncology; 3Hematology, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0NN, UK

Purpose: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) with associated chronic pain is a common and disabling condition. Current treatments for neuropathic pain in CIPN are largely ineffective, with unfavorable side-effects. The capsaicin 8% patch (capsaicin 179 mg patch) is approved for the treatment of neuropathic pain: a single topical cutaneous application can produce effective pain relief for up to 12 weeks. We assessed the therapeutic potential of capsaicin 8% patch in patients with painful CIPN, and its mechanism of action.
Patients and methods: 16 patients with chronic painful CIPN (mean duration 2.5 years), in remission for cancer and not receiving chemotherapy, were treated with 30 min application of capsaicin 8% patch to the feet. Symptoms were monitored using the 11-point numerical pain rating scale (NPRS), and questionnaires. Investigations were performed at baseline and three months after patch application, including skin biopsies with a range of markers, and quantitative sensory testing (QST).
Results: Patients reported significant reduction in spontaneous pain (mean NPRS: −1.27; 95% CI 0.2409 to 2.301; p=0.02), touch-evoked pain (−1.823; p=0.03) and cold-evoked pain (−1.456; p=0.03). Short-Form McGill questionnaire showed a reduction in neuropathic (p=0.0007), continuous (p=0.01) and overall pain (p=0.004); Patient Global Impression of Change showed improvement (p=0.001). Baseline skin biopsies showed loss of intra-epidermal nerve fibers (IENF), and also of sub-epidermal nerve fibers quantified by image analysis. Post-patch application skin biopsies showed a significant increase towards normalization of intra-epidermal and sub-epidermal nerve fibers (for IENF: structural marker PGP9.5, p=0.009; heat receptor TRPV1, p=0.027; regenerating nerve marker GAP43, p=0.04). Epidermal levels of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), Neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), and Langerhans cells were also normalized. QST remained unchanged and there were no systemic side-effects, as in previous studies.
Conclusion: Capsaicin 8% patch provides significant pain relief in CIPN, and may lead to regeneration and restoration of sensory nerve fibers ie, disease modification.

Keywords: capsaicin, neuropathic pain, chemotherapy, skin biopsy

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