Letter | Published:

Depression of Muscle Spindle Function with Vincristine

Naturevolume 212pages9091 (1966) | Download Citation


  • An Erratum to this article was published on 04 February 1967


VINCRISTINE sulphate, a purified indole alkaloid of the periwinkle plant, has been used widely in clinical and experimental cancer chemotherapy since its activity in acute leukaemia was first described in 1962 (ref. 1). A prominent side effect which often limits therapy with this drug is a dose-related peripheral neuropathy, presenting with depression of the deep tendon reflexes and paraesthesias, and progressing to flaccid paralysis in advanced cases2. Careful monitoring of the early effects of vincristine and appropriate adjustment of the dosage schedule may reduce the incidence of neurological complications. In fact, the only prominent neurological effect which remains at the controlled dose levels used is markedly depressed or absent deep tendon reflexes. This change is so characteristic that we have quantitated the amplitude of the Achilles reflex in order to govern the use of the drug and in order to indicate the onset of its action3.

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  1. Medical Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness

  2. Medicine Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland



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