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Jeremy Chung Bo Chiang, David Goldstein, Terry Trinh, Kimberley Au, David Mizrahi, Mark Muhlmann, Philip Crowe, Siobhan O'Neill, Katie Edwards, Susanna B. Park, Arun V. Krishnan, Maria Markoulli; A Cross-Sectional Study of Sub-Basal Corneal Nerve Reduction Following Neurotoxic Chemotherapy. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2021;10(1):24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.10.1.24.
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Sub-basal corneal nerves have been shown to change during neurotoxic chemotherapy treatment. This cross-sectional study investigated corneal nerve morphology in patients who have completed neurotoxic chemotherapy well after treatment cessation and its association with peripheral nerve function.
Central corneal nerve fiber length (CNFL) and inferior whorl length (IWL), average nerve fiber length (ANFL), corneal nerve fiber density (CNFD) and corneal nerve branch density (CNBD), and nerve fiber area (CNFA) were examined using in vivo corneal confocal microscopy in patients with cancer who had completed treatment with either paclitaxel or oxaliplatin between 3 and 24 months prior to assessment in comparison with 2 separate groups of healthy controls. Neurological assessments were conducted including clinician- and patient-reported outcomes, and neurological grading scales.
Both paclitaxel- (n = 40) and oxaliplatin-treated (n = 30) groups had reduced IWL and ANFL compared to the respective healthy control groups (n = 15 in each group) (paclitaxel: IWL = P = 0.02, ANFL = P = 0.009; and oxaliplatin: IWL = P = 0.008, ANFL P = 0.02). CNFL and CNFD reduction were observed only in the paclitaxel-treated group compared with healthy controls (P = 0.008 and P = 0.02, respectively), whereas CNFA was reduced in the oxaliplatin-treated group (P = 0.04). IWL reduction correlated with worse fine hand dexterity in chemotherapy-treated patients (r = −0.33, P = 0.007).
There is evidence of corneal nerve loss in patients with cancer who have been treated with paclitaxel and oxaliplatin well after treatment cessation associated with worse upper limb function.
Sub-basal corneal nerve reduction is evident even after cessation of neurotoxic treatment. In vivo corneal confocal microscopy may be useful in the monitoring of nerve function in patients receiving chemotherapy.
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