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Papers of the Week

Papers: 7 Sep 2019 - 13 Sep 2019

Human Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2019 Jan-Dec

Mol Pain


Signaling Pathways and Gene Co-Expression Modules Associated with Cytoskeleton and Axon Morphology in Breast Cancer Survivors with Chronic Paclitaxel-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy.


Kober K, Schumacher MA, Conley YP, Topp K, Mazor M, Hammer M, Paul S, Levine J, Miaskowski C
Mol Pain. 2019 Jan-Dec; 15:1744806919878088.
PMID: 31486345.


The major dose-limiting toxicity of paclitaxel, one of the most commonly used drugs to treat breast cancer, is peripheral neuropathy (PIPN). PIPN, which persists into survivorship, has a negative impact on patient's mood, functional status, and quality of life. Currently, no interventions are available to treat PIPN. A critical barrier to the development of efficacious interventions is the lack of understanding of the mechanisms that underlie PIPN. While data from preclinical studies suggest that disrupting cytoskeleton- and axon morphology-related processes are a potential mechanism for PIPN, clinical evidence is limited. The purpose of the present study in breast cancer survivors was to evaluate whether differential gene expression and co-expression patterns in these pathways are associated with PIPN. Signaling pathways and gene co-expression modules associated with cytoskeleton and axon morphology were identified between survivors who received paclitaxel and did (n=25) or did not (n=25) develop PIPN. Pathway impact analysis identified four significantly perturbed cytoskeleton- and axon morphology-related signaling pathways. Weighted gene co-expression network analysis identified three co-expression modules. One module was associated with PIPN group membership. Functional analysis found that this module was associated with four signaling pathways and two ontology annotations related to cytoskeleton and axon morphology. This study, which is the first to apply systems biology approaches using circulating whole blood RNA-seq data in a sample of breast cancer survivors with and without chronic PIPN, provides molecular evidence that cytoskeleton- and axon morphology-related mechanisms identified in preclinical models of various types of neuropathic pain including chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, are found in breast cancer survivors and suggests pathways and a module of genes for validation and as potential therapeutic targets.