The neuroprotective effect of oxytocin on vincristine-induced neurotoxicity in mice

Jianchun Zhu, Yang Li, Jinghui Liang, Jingxin Li, Kai Huang, Jing Li, Chuanyong Liu
Toxicology Letters 2021 January 8
Vincristine (VCR) is commonly used to treat a variety of hematological malignancies and solid tumors in pediatric and adult patients. However, peripheral neuropathy is a dose-limiting side effect that leaves some patients with functional disability and long-term pain. Oxytocin (OT) has demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, but there is no evidence regarding its effects on VCR-induced neurotoxicity. Therefore, we evaluated the potential protective effects of OT on VCR-induced neurotoxicity. In vitro, VCR (0.005 ∼ 0.1 µmol/l) and OT (10-8 ∼ 10-5 mol/l) were added into cultured primary dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons of mice. The length of neurites was counted by using immunofluorescence. In vivo, neurotoxicity was induced in mice by administration of VCR (0.1 mg/kg, intraperitoneal injection for 14 days) with or without pretreatment of OT (0.1 mg/kg or 1 mg/kg). Atosiban, an OT receptor (OTR) antagonist and OTR knockout (KO) mice were used for evaluating effects of OTR. Mechanical hyperalgesia was measured by using von Frey filaments. Histology of plantar skin, sciatic nerve and DRG was observed by using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and hematoxylin-eosin (HE) staining. Results indicated that OT alleviated VCR-induced neurite damage in cultured primary DRG neurons in vitro. In vivo, OT ameliorated VCR-induced hyperalgesia. Histologically, OT attenuated the VCR-induced damages of nerve endings, myelin sheaths and Schwann cells in sciatic nerve and DRG. These effects were antagonized by atosiban. In addition, OTR knockout mice exhibited more severe hyperalgesia than wild-type mice. Globally, these results indicated that OT may have neuroprotective effects on vincristine-induced neurotoxicity in mice.

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