Gentamycin is an aminoglycoside antibiotic which is widely used throughout the world, despite its ototoxic potential. It therefore seems wise to continue the search for accessible otoprotective agents. The aim of this study was to clarify the potential protective role of N-acetylcysteine in gentamycin ototoxicity. An animal model (rat) was used, and a combination of gentamycin and / or N-acetylcysteine was administered intraperitoneally to 36 rats in three groups. The rats’ hearing levels were tested using ABR and OAE, following which the rat cochleas were examined histopathologically. The authors propose that N-acetylcysteine might block a cascade where reactive oxygen species result in apoptosis in the cochlea via its antioxidant effect, and their study clearly demonstrates a protective effect of N-acetylcysteine in preserving ABR and OAE thresholds; confirming histopathologically that evidence of cochlear hair cell apoptosis was considerably less in rats who received both gentamycin and N-acetylcysteine. This is an encouraging outcome which makes one wonder whether otoprotective agents in combination with topical antibiotic eardrops might be a useful development for the future.

N-acetylcysteine prevents gentamicin ototoxicity in a rat model.
Somdaş MA, Korkmaz F, Gülsen Gürgen S, Sagit M, Akçadağ A.
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Emma Stapleton

Manchester Royal Infirmary, UK.

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