The 2019 Healthcare Otago Charitable Trust Summer Research Scholar

Emma HCOT Scholar2

Emma Bultitude 

Project: Use of Interleukin-10 to Prevent Gentamicin-Induced Cochlear Ototoxicity

Supervisor: Professor Paul Smith, Pharmacology and Toxicology

Gentamicin, an aminoglycoside antibiotic, is used extensively for its effectiveness at treating bacterial infections. Unfortunately, gentamicin is ototoxic, meaning it can irreversibly kill the hair cells within the cochlea and vestibular system of the inner ear.

Damage to cochlear hair cells results in severe, permanent hearing deficits, meaning thousands of gentamicin users become infection free but unable to hear as they used to. This summer studentship research aimed to investigate whether the ototoxicity of gentamicin treatment could be reduced using interleukin-10, an anti-inflammatory mediator.

The cochleae of post-natal day one rats were dissected, exposed to either gentamicin or no antibiotic, and the resultant effects on the hair cells were assessed. Due to the complexity of this experiment, it cannot be determined if interleukin-10 can reduce gentamicin ototoxicity, but this experiment was significant in establishing an in vitro cochlear culture model.