Cytotoxic drug-induced nausea and vomiting are the side effects most feared by cancer patients. Emesis is an instinctive defense reaction caused by the somato-autonomic nerve reflex, which is integrated in the medulla oblongata. Emesis caused by anticancer drugs is associated with an increase in the concentration of serotonin (5-HT) (5-HT) in the intestinal mucosa and brainstem. 5-HT released from the enterochromaffin (EC) cells, which synthesize and secrete 5-HT, stimulates the 5-HT receptors on the adjacent vagal afferent nerves. The depolarization of the vagal afferent nerves stimulates the vomiting center in the brainstem and eventually induces a vomiting reflex. 5-HT released from EC cells appears to mediate the cisplatin-induced emesis sensitive to 5-HT3 receptor antagonists. The precise role of 5-HT in the occurrence of vomiting has not been fully elucidated. The present review describes the role of 5-HT in anticancer drug-induced emesis from the viewpoint of 5-HT release and afferent vagal nerve activity. Various models and methods for predicting emesis are also evaluated.
2004 by the PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF JAPAN