How chemotherapy can cause neurotoxicity

Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Dr. Saqib Mueed

What is neurotoxicity?

Neurotoxicity is the toxic effects of certain chemicals used by humans especially for chemotherapy for the treatment of cancers in the body.

One of the most troubling results of recent cancer survivor research, however, is the growing prevalence of adverse neurological effects associated with chemotherapy, including vascular complications, seizures, mood disturbances, cognitive dysfunctions, and peripheral neuropathies.

Neurons cause secondary changes that lead to neuropathic pain. There is strong evidence of the neurotoxicity of at least some types of chemotherapy.

Cognitive disorders and mental illness may occur in a subset of cancer survivors, though these are usually subtle, among various neurological side effects. A variety of factors can either protect against cognitive impairments or put an increased risk of diminished cognitive function in individuals.

Notwithstanding concerted attempts to control the neurological side effects of chemotherapy in patients and the production of chemoprotective drugs, neurological treatment is generally not recognized

It is well known that the cytostatic effects of chemotherapeutic agents inhibit the cancer cell division cycle. Chemotherapy can cause related changes, particularly in neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity which are closely related to the hippocampus.

Hippocampus and chemotherapy

The hippocampus is a major structure of the limbic system that has been extensively studied in people with learning and memory difficulties and emotion regulation, which can be manifested in symptoms such as depression.

In addition, epidemiological studies of cancer survivors with cognitive impairments are required to explain the side effects of chemotherapeutic agents and thus allow new therapeutic agents to be developed without such side effects.

We, therefore, need more experiments on laboratory animals to check these associations. Several groups using in vivo and in vitro experimental models have recently recorded that chemotherapy contributes to neurodegeneration and hippocampal dysfunctions, such as memory deficits.

The biological impacts of chemical agents on the hippocampus and its functions, including memory and depression, as well as their neurotoxicity, are rising day by day.

How chemotherapeutic chemicals impact the nervous system

Basically, when cancer-killing drugs are being used, it is meant to stop cell growth, as well as cell division, because cancers are called abnormal cell division.

This will stop the normal metabolism. Similarly, the use of this chemical will affect other parts of the body where there are no cancerous cells. The most important of these victims are the cells of the nervous system because they are the workers of the nervous system.

And these cells are responsible for message transmission to the body through tiny holes in the neurons that close at one time and open at another.

Chemicals that kill cancer cells where the cancer is, but also affect the cells of the nervous system which makes it unable to function properly. People recovering from cancer suffer from nervous system problems.

Obviously, when the message is not delivered properly to the body, the message will not reach its destination properly. We all know that the source of the message transfer in our body is our nervous system.

When other chemicals that are not needed in this space come into the nervous system, it is likely that it will not allow the rest of the system to function properly.

The result is a disorder of the nervous system. Mood swings, as well as various muscular tissues in the body, or not being able to get messages right, or having abnormal distribution in other places where cells were normal, are common problems for people who have had chemotherapy recently. Be.

Chemotherapy is a great way to save a person’s life, but more research is needed to minimize its side effects after use.[1]Frontiers | Mechanisms of Chemotherapy-Induced Neurotoxicity ([2]Chemotherapy‐induced neuropathies—a growing problem for patients and health care providers – Banach – 2017 – Brain and Behavior – Wiley Online Library[3]Neurotoxicity of cancer chemotherapy – PMC (

Reviewed by:
Dr. Shafaat Yar Khan  (Ph.D.) 
Medical University of Vienna, Austria 
Present: University of Sargodha, Pakistan

Our reviewers’ details, Click Here

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