Systemic application of honokiol prevents cisplatin ototoxicity without compromising its antitumor effect

Am J Cancer Res. 2020 Dec 1;10(12):4416-4434. eCollection 2020.


Cisplatin is a potent drug used in about 40% of cancer treatment but also leads to severe deafness in 60-80% of the cases. Although the mechanism is known to be related to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), no drug or FDA approved treatment is currently available to prevent cisplatin ototoxicity. With this study, we show for the first time that honokiol (HNK), a pleiotropic poly-phenol prevents cisplatin-induced hearing loss. HNK also improves the wellbeing of the mice during the treatment, determined by the increase in the number of surviving animals. In a transgenic tumor mouse model, HNK does not hinder cisplatin's antitumor effect. The mechanism is related to the activation of sirtuin 3, a deacetylase in mitochondria essential for ROS detoxification. We expect a paradigm shift in cisplatin chemotherapy based on the current study and future clinical trials, where honokiol is applied to reduce side effects including hearing loss.

Keywords: Chemotherapy; cochlea; hearing protection; reactive oxygen species; tumor-bearing mice.