Application of antioxidants and other agents to prevent cisplatin ototoxicity

Laryngoscope. 1999 Nov;109(11):1740-4. doi: 10.1097/00005537-199911000-00003.


Objective/hypothesis: To review the recent data from experiments performed in this laboratory to test the hypothesis that cisplatin ototoxicity is related to depletion of glutathione and antioxidant enzymes in the cochlea and that the use of antioxidants or protective agents would protect the cochlea against cisplatin damage and prevent hearing loss.

Study design/methods: Data were reviewed from experiments performed in this laboratory. Control rats were treated intraperitoneally with cisplatin 16 mg/kg. Experimental rats were given cisplatin in combination with one of the following protective agents: diethyldithiocarbamate, 4-methylthiobenzoic acid, ebselen, or lipoic acid. Animals in each group underwent auditory brainstem response (ABR) threshold testing before and 3 days after treatment. Cochleae were removed after final ABR testing and analyzed for glutathione and activities of the enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and malondialdehyde.

Results: Rats in the control group receiving cisplatin were found to have significant ABR threshold shifts. This was accompanied by a reduction of glutathione and the activity of antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, catalase, and glutathione reductase) and an elevation of malondialdehyde. Experimental animals had preservation of ABR thresholds and levels of glutathione, antioxidant enzyme activity, and malondialdehyde that were similar to untreated animals.

Conclusion: Cisplatin ototoxicity appears to be initiated by fee-radical production, which causes depletion of glutathione and antioxidant enzymes in the cochlea, and lipid peroxidation, manifested by an increase in malondialdehyde. These effects were blocked by each of a series of antioxidant compounds given in combination with cisplatin. A mechanism for cisplatin ototoxicity is elaborated with a proposed plan of chemoprevention using agents with different mechanisms of action. These substances could be used alone or in combination to reduce the severity of cisplatin ototoxicity in patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Cisplatin / adverse effects*
  • Cochlea / drug effects*
  • Ear, Inner / drug effects*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Rats
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Cisplatin