Melittin, a honeybee venom derived peptide for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy

Tenzin Tender, Rakesh Ravishankar Rahangdale, Sridevi Balireddy, Madhavan Nampoothiri, K. Krishna Sharma, Hariharapura Raghu Chandrashekar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is the most prevalent neurological complication of cancer treatment which involves sensory and motor nerve dysfunction. Severe CIPN has been reported in around 5% of patients treated with single and up to 38% of patients treated with multiple chemotherapeutic agents. Present medications available for CIPN are the use of opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, and tricyclic antidepressants, which are only marginally effective in treating neuropathic symptoms. In reality, symptom reappears after these drugs are discontinued. The pathogenesis of CIPN has not been sufficiently recognized and methods for the prevention and treatment of CIPN remain vulnerable to therapeutic problems. It has witnessed that the present medicines available for the disease offer only symptomatic relief for the short term and have severe adverse side effects. There is no standard treatment protocol for preventing, reducing, and treating CIPN. Therefore, there is a need to develop curative therapy that can be used to treat this complication. Melittin is the main pharmacological active constituent of honeybee venom and has therapeutic values including in chemotherapeutic-induced peripheral neuropathy. It has been shown that melittin and whole honey bee venom are effective in treating paclitaxel and oxaliplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy. The use of melittin against peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy has been limited despite having strong therapeutic efficacy against the disease. Melittin mediated haemolysis is the key reason to restrict its use. In our study, it is found that α-Crystallin (an eye lens protein) is capable of inhibiting melittin-induced haemolysis which gives hope of using an appropriate combination of melittin and α-Crystallin in the treatment of CIPN. The review summarizes the efforts made by different research groups to address the concern with melittin in the treatment of chemotherapeutic-induced neuropathy. It also focuses on the possible approaches to overcome melittin-induced haemolysis. Graphic Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number52
JournalMedical Oncology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 05-2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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