Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Pharmacology & Toxicology

First Advisor

Dr. David A. Gewirtz


While cancer chemotherapy continues to significantly contribute to the number of cancer survivors, exposure to these drugs can often result in chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), a consequence of peripheral nerve fiber dysfunction or degeneration. CIPN is characterized by sensory symptoms in the hands and feet, such as numbness, burning, and allodynia, resulting in an overall decrease in quality of life. Paclitaxel (Taxol), a microtubule poison that is commonly used to treat breast, lung, and ovarian cancers, has been found to cause CIPN in 59-78% of cancer patients. There is currently no effective preventative or therapeutic treatment for this side effect, which can be a dose-limiting factor for chemotherapy or delay treatment. Our collaborators in the laboratory of Dr. M. Imad Damaj have shown that nicotine, a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) agonist, and R-47, an α7 nAChR silent agonist, can prevent and reverse paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy in mice. With regard to cancer, this work demonstrates that nicotine and R-47 do not enhance A549 and H460 human non-small cell lung cancer cell viability, colony formation, or proliferation alone, and they do not attenuate paclitaxel-induced growth arrest, apoptosis, or DNA fragmentation. Most importantly, nicotine and R-47 do not increase the growth of A549 tumors or interfere with the antitumor activity of paclitaxel in tumor-bearing mice. These data suggest that targeting nAChRs may be a safe and efficacious approach for the prevention and treatment of CIPN in cancer patients.


© Sarah Lauren Kyte

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VCU University Archives

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VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


Available for download on Tuesday, August 01, 2023