The 2019 Healthcare Otago Charitable Trust Summer Research Scholar
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.