Prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea: the role of neurokinin-1 (NK1) receptor antagonists

Snežana M. Bošnjak, Richard J. Gralla, Lee Schwartzberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Chemotherapy-induced nausea (CIN) has a significant negative impact on the quality of life of cancer patients. The use of 5-hydroxytryptamine-3 (5-HT3) receptor antagonists (RAs) has reduced the risk of vomiting, but (except for palonosetron) their effect on nausea, especially delayed nausea, is limited. This article reviews the role of NK1RAs when combined with 5-HT3RA–dexamethasone in CIN prophylaxis. Aprepitant has not shown consistent superiority over a two-drug (ondansetron–dexamethasone) combination in nausea control after cisplatin– or anthracycline–cyclophosphamide (AC)-based highly emetogenic chemotherapy (HEC). Recently, dexamethasone and dexamethasone–metoclopramide were demonstrated to be non-inferior to aprepitant and aprepitant–dexamethasone, respectively, for the control of delayed nausea after HEC (AC/cisplatin), and are now recognized in the guidelines. The potential impact of the new NK1RAs rolapitant and netupitant (oral fixed combination with palonosetron, as NEPA) in CIN prophylaxis is discussed. While the clinical significance of the effect on nausea of the rolapitant–granisetron–dexamethasone combination after cisplatin is not conclusive, rolapitant addition showed no improvement in nausea prophylaxis after AC or moderately emetogenic chemotherapy (MEC). NEPA was superior to palonosetron in the control of nausea after HEC (AC/cisplatin). Moreover, the efficacy of NEPA in nausea control was maintained over multiple cycles of HEC/MEC. Recently, NK1RAs have been challenged by olanzapine, with olanzapine showing superior efficacy in nausea prevention after HEC. Fixed antiemetic combinations (such as NEPA) or new antiemetics with a long half-life that may be given once per chemotherapy cycle (rolapitant or NEPA) may improve patient compliance with antiemetic treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1661-1671
Number of pages11
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Antiemetic guidelines
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea (CIN)
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV)
  • NK receptor antagonist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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