New insights into the mechanism of aminoglycoside nephrotoxicity: an integrative point of view

Kidney Int. 2011 Jan;79(1):33-45. doi: 10.1038/ki.2010.337. Epub 2010 Sep 22.


Nephrotoxicity is one of the most important side effects and therapeutical limitations of aminoglycoside antibiotics, especially gentamicin. Despite rigorous patient monitoring, nephrotoxicity appears in 10-25% of therapeutic courses. Traditionally, aminoglycoside nephrotoxicity has been considered to result mainly from tubular damage. Both lethal and sub-lethal alterations in tubular cells handicap reabsorption and, in severe cases, may lead to a significant tubular obstruction. However, a reduced glomerular filtration is necessary to explain the symptoms of the disease. Reduced filtration is not solely the result of tubular obstruction and tubular malfunction, resulting in tubuloglomerular feedback activation; renal vasoconstriction and mesangial contraction are also crucial to fully explain aminoglycoside nephrotoxicity. This review critically presents an integrative view on the interactions of tubular, glomerular, and vascular effects of gentamicin, in the context of the most recent information available. Moreover, it discusses therapeutic perspectives for prevention of aminoglycoside nephrotoxicity derived from the pathophysiological knowledge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aminoglycosides / adverse effects*
  • Aminoglycosides / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Gentamicins / adverse effects*
  • Gentamicins / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Kidney Diseases / physiopathology
  • Kidney Glomerulus / drug effects
  • Kidney Tubules / drug effects
  • Renal Circulation / drug effects


  • Aminoglycosides
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Gentamicins