Vitamins to prevent drug-induced hearing loss


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Researchers at the University of Florida, USA, have found in animal models that a dietary supplement may help to protect against antibiotic drug-induced hearing loss. The study was conducted in rodents, two different strains of guinea pigs, that were given either a standard laboratory animal diet or a nutrient-supplemented version containing the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, as well as the mineral magnesium. The diet was started 10 days before the start of antibiotic gentamicin injections, was continued during the 16-day period of daily gentamicin administration, and was maintained throughout the 2-week post-treatment follow-up period.

The researchers found that the group receiving an enriched diet had better hearing outcomes particularly at lower test frequencies, indicating a protective effect against drug-induced hearing loss. They think that antioxidant vitamins may prevent hearing damage by “scavenging” free radicals, known to damage hearing, and thus protect against their effects.

“We’re enthusiastic about the use of these vitamins because of the significant safety profile that exists,” says Colleen Le Prell, the study’s lead investigator. “These agents are generally regarded as safe with very well-known recommended daily intakes.”

The study is important because the class of antibiotics called aminoglycosides that includes gentamicin is used for conditions such as multidrug-resistant tuberculosis or frequent lung infections in patients with cystic fibrosis. It is however known to cause hearing loss. Some estimates indicate a risk as high as 25%. The research team hopes that these results will help to develop preventive treatment for ototoxicity in people taking these drugs.

Source: University of Florida; Le Prell CG, et al. Assessment of nutrient supplement to reduce gentamicin-induced ototoxicity. Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. 2014 Jun;15(3):375-93.