EGb 761 (Ginkgo biloba) protects cochlear hair cells against ototoxicity induced by gentamicin via reducing reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide-related apoptosis

J Nutr Biochem. 2011 Sep;22(9):886-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2010.08.009. Epub 2010 Dec 28.


Gentamicin is an effective and powerful antibiotic. Extended use or excessive dosages of which can result in irreversible damage to the inner ear. The development of otoprotective strategies is a primary and urgent goal in research of gentamicin ototoxicity. Ginkgo biloba leaves and their extracts are among the most widely used herbal products and/or dietary supplements in the world. We investigated the protection of EGb 761 (a standardized preparation of EGb) on gentamicin ototoxicity and the involvement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO)-related mechanisms using in vitro organ cultures and an in vivo animal model. Gentamicin induced hair cell damage in cochlear cultures that could be prevented by EGb 761. EGb 761 also significantly reduced gentamicin-induced ROS and NO production. Furthermore, EGb 761 inhibited cellular apoptosis in cultured cochleae treated with gentamicin. In guinea pigs with gentamicin application onto the round window membrane, the mean auditory brain stem response threshold, ratio of cochlear hair cell damage and apoptosis were significantly elevated compared with those in the control group, and this could be prevented by oral administration of EGb 761. Individual EGb 761 components quercetin, bilobalide, ginkgolide A and ginkgolide B, but not kaempferol, significantly prevented gentamicin-induced hair cell damage. These results indicate that EGb 761 has a protective effect against gentamicin ototoxicity through a reduction in the formation of ROS and NO and subsequent inhibition of hair cell apoptosis in the cochlea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / toxicity*
  • Apoptosis*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cochlea / drug effects*
  • Cochlea / metabolism
  • Gentamicins / toxicity*
  • Ginkgo biloba*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / drug effects
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Gentamicins
  • Plant Extracts
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Ginkgo biloba extract
  • Nitric Oxide