The good news is, this side effect can be prevented. Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have found new ways to prevent hearing loss caused by antibiotics.
Antibiotics can cause hearing loss, this is how you prevent it
Antibiotics are needed to treat bacterial infections, but they also carry the risk of side effects. Overuse of antibiotics or long-term exposure to antibiotics can lead to serious side effects, including ototoxicity or hearing loss.
They have identified a key pathway involved in hair cell death and permanent hearing loss associated with aminoglycosides, a class of antibiotics. Additionally, they have discovered multiple potential therapeutic targets for preventing hearing loss caused by the medicines.
And the best thing is that the researcher group has developed a laboratory model which is resistant to antibiotic-induced hearing loss.
They reported their findings recently in the journal Developmental Cell.
How antibiotics cause hearing loss
Owing to their low cost, aminoglycosides are commonly used in developing countries as a first-line treatment for life-threatening bacterial infections. Although use of aminoglycosides is associated with low incidence of antibiotic resistance, many users have reported suffering from hair cell death and even permanent hearing loss.
However, the underlying mechanisms responsible for the hearing loss were not clearly known until now. Indiana University have revealed the connection.
Zhao, whose lab investigates the molecular mechanisms underlying hearing loss, used biochemical screening to identify proteins found in hair cells.
First, they got to know that aminoglycosides bind to a protein in hair cells called RIPOR2, which plays a key role in auditory perception. They also assumed that RIPOR2 is responsible for aminoglycoside-induced hair cell death.
Further, they developed a lab model that has normal hearing but significantly decreased RIPOR2 expression. When treated with aminoglycosides, the model experienced no significant hair cell death or hearing loss.
They then concluded that RIPOR2 regulates the autophagy pathway in hair cells that's linked to the aminoglycoside-induced hearing loss.
The experts believe that the proteins they have identified could be used as potential drug targets to prevent aminoglycoside-induced hearing loss. Ototoxicity is believed to be one of the main causes of hearing loss in people.
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