Activation of KCNQ Channels Prevents Paclitaxel-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy and Associated Neuropathic Pain

Lin Li, Jinxiu Li, Yan Zuo, Danny Dang, Jeffrey A. Frost, Qing Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy (PIPN) and associated neuropathic pain are the most common and serious adverse effects experienced by cancer patients receiving paclitaxel treatment. These effects adversely impact daily activities and consequently the quality of life, sometimes forcing the suspension of treatment and negatively influencing survival. Patients are usually at high risk of developing PIPN if paclitaxel induces acute pain, which strongly suggests that an acute increase in the excitability of nociceptors underlies the chronic alterations of PIPN. KCNQ/Kv7 channels are widely expressed in the primary sensory neurons to modulate their excitability. In the present study, we show that targeting KCNQ/Kv7 channels at an early stage is an effective strategy to attenuate the development of PIPN. We found that paclitaxel did not decrease the expression level of KCNQ/Kv7 channels in the primary sensory neurons as detected by quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and Western blotting. However, retigabine, which is a specific KCNQ/Kv7 channel opener, attenuated significantly the development of PIPN, as shown by both morphologic and behavioral evidence. We also observed that retigabine had no obvious effect on the chemosensitivity of breast cancer cells to paclitaxel. Although retigabine has been approved by the FDA as an anticonvulsant, our study suggests that this drug can be repurposed to attenuate the development of PIPN. Perspective: Paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy and associated neuropathic pain are severe and resistant to intervention. The results of our study demonstrated that retigabine (a clinically available medicine) can be used to attenuate the development of paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Pain
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • hyperexcitability
  • K channels
  • neuropathy
  • paclitaxel
  • pain
  • prevention
  • retigabine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Cite this