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Cell Cycle. 2014;13(4):612-21. doi: 10.4161/cc.27476. Epub 2013 Dec 12.

Evaluation of tubulin polymerization and chronic inhibition of proteasome as citotoxicity mechanisms in bortezomib-induced peripheral neuropathy.

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Experimental Neurology Unit; Department of Surgery and Translational Medicine; University of Milan Bicocca; Monza, Italy.
Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases; King's College London; London, UK.
Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences; University of Oxford; Oxford, UK.


Bortezomib (BTZ) is the first proteasome inhibitor entered in clinical practice. Peripheral neuropathy is likely to be a class side effect of these drugs, although its severity is largely variable, and it deserves to be further investigated, since the mechanisms of BTZ-induced peripheral neurotoxicity (BiPN) are still unknown.   In our study, we investigated in vivo and in vitro possible pathogenic events relevant to BiPN using a well-established rat model, with particular reference to the extent of proteasome inhibition and the effects on α-tubulin polymerization in sciatic nerves and dorsal root ganglia specimens obtained from animals treated with chronic regimens at a dose of 0.2 mg/kg intravenously. The same assessments were also performed after a single injection. Moreover, these studies were replicated in vitro using embryonic DRG neurons exposed to 100 nM BTZ and adult DRG neurons exposed to 10-50 nM BTZ for 24 h and 48 h. A significant increase in the polymerized fraction of α-tubulin and prolonged proteasome inhibition were observed after the chronic BTZ treatment in vivo. Recovery to physiological levels was observed after a 4-week follow-up post-treatment period. Proteasome inhibition and increased α-tubulin polymerization were also observed following BTZ treatment of both embryonic and adult DRG neurons in vitro. Our in vivo results suggest that proteasome inhibition and alteration of tubulin dynamics contribute to BiPN. The in vitro systems here described reliably replicate the in vivo results, and might therefore be used for further mechanistic studies on the effects of proteasome inhibitors on neurons.


Bortezomib; neuronal cultures; peripheral neuropathy; proteasome inhibitor; α-tubulin polymerization

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