INTRODUCTION: Paclitaxel-induced peripheral neurotoxicity (PIPN) typically manifests as a predominantly sensory axonopathy. Nerve conduction studies (NCS) represent the gold standard method to quantify axonal impairment in PIPN. Serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) levels are emerging biomarkers for quantifying axonal damage in peripheral neuropathies. To date, the association between NCS abnormalities and sNfL levels during paclitaxel-based chemotherapy has not been specifically addressed.

METHODS: We prospectively conducted longitudinal measurement of sNfL levels in 27 chemotherapy-naïve breast cancer patients and correlated conventional NCS recordings with sNfL in 22 of them, before (T0) and after (T1) 12 cycles of weekly paclitaxel-based therapy.

RESULTS: PIPN was diagnosed in 24/27 patients (88%) after completion of the 12-week paclitaxel-based chemotherapy regimen. Serum NfL levels (pg/mL) were significantly higher at T1 compared to T0 (T0: 18.50 ± 12.88 vs T1: 255.80 ± 194.16; p < 0.001). The increase of sNfL levels at T1 significantly correlated with the decrease or abolishment of amplitudes recorded from the sural nerve (r = 0.620; p = 0.0035), sensory radial (r = 0.613; p = 0.005), sensory ulnar (r = 0.630; p = 0.005), and peroneal motor (r = 0.568; p = 0.024) nerves.

CONCLUSION: sNfL levels proportionally increase during chemotherapy administration and significantly correlate with NCS axonal abnormalities in patients with PIPN. A multimodal testing approach employing both sNfL and NCS might improve the PIPN diagnostic accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-537
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number1
Early online dateSept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2022


  • Neurofilament light chain
  • chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • Paclitaxel


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