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Protective effect of melatonin against gentamicin ototoxicity

  • L-F Ye (a1), Z-Z Tao (a2), Q-Q Hua (a2), B-K Xiao (a2), X-H Zhou (a1), J Li (a1) and Y-L Yuan (a3)...



To research the protective effect of melatonin against gentamicin ototoxicity.


Guinea pigs were randomly divided into four groups. The first group received intramuscular gentamicin (120 mg/kg body weight/day) for 17 days. Over the same time period, a second group simultaneously received intramuscular gentamicin (120 mg/kg body weight/day) plus (on the other side) intramuscular melatonin (0.3 ml kg body weight/day). Two groups of controls were treated for 17 days with either intramuscular melatonin or intramuscular saline. After the 17 days, each animal underwent distortion product otoacoustic emission testing (both ears). The guinea pigs were sacrificed by decapitation just after the final injection. Their cochleae were used to produce a tissue section, surface preparation and scanning electron microscope preparation.


Distortion product otoacoustic emission testing indicated gentamicin-induced hearing loss at 3, 4, 6 and 8 kHz in gentamicin-treated animals. Animals receiving melatonin co-therapy had significantly attenuated hearing loss and their cochleae showed lower rates of outer hair cell loss (comparing the same cochlear turns), compared with gentamicin-treated animals (p < 0.01).


These findings confirm the occurrence of outer hair cell loss after gentamicin treatment, and the attenuation of such loss following simultaneous melatonin injection, using the method of morphological evaluation. These results suggest that melatonin protects against gentamicin ototoxicity by interfering with cytotoxic mechanisms.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr ZeZhang Tao, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan 430060, Hubei, PR China. Fax: 862767812892 E-mail:


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