Glutamic acid not beneficial for the prevention of vincristine neurotoxicity in children with cancer

Scott M. Bradfield, Eric Sandler, Thomas Geller, Roy N. Tamura, Jeffrey P. Krischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Vincristine causes known side effects of peripheral sensory, motor, autonomic and cranial neuropathies. No preventive interventions are known. Procedure: We performed a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of oral glutamic acid as a preventive agent in pediatric patients with cancer who would be receiving vincristine therapy for at least 9 consecutive weeks (Stratum 1=Wilms tumor and rhabdomyosarcoma) or 4 consecutive weeks in conjunction with steroids (Stratum 2=Acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma). At designated time points, a scored neurologic exam using the Modified Balis Pediatric Scale of Peripheral Neuropathies was performed to document neurologic toxicity. Results: Between 2007 and 2012, 250 patients were enrolled (Stratum 1=50, Stratum 2=200). The glutamic acid treated group did not have a significantly lower percentage of neurotoxicity compared to placebo treated group either overall or within stratum or age subgroups. The only subgroup which was suggestive of treatment effect was for age. Patients 13 years or older showed a larger benefit in favor of glutamic acid (P=0.055) compared to patients less than 13 years (P=1.00). Constipation was the most frequently reported (14%) Grade II or higher neurotoxicity. Conclusion: Vincristine-associated neurotoxicity in pediatric oncology remains a frequent complication of chemotherapy for multiple diagnoses with an approximate 30% of patients affected. Glutamic acid is not effective for prevention in pre-adolescents. There is a suggestion of benefit in patients 13 years or older, but the study was not designed to provide adequate power to test the treatment effect within this age group alone. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2015;62:1004-1010.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1004-1010
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemotherapy neurotoxicities
  • Lymphoblastic leukemia/neurology
  • Pediatric oncology
  • Quality of life
  • Support care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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