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Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2007 Jul-Aug;146(1-2):203-6. Epub 2006 Sep 3.

Streptomycin action to the mammalian inner ear vestibular organs: comparison between pigmented guinea pigs and rats.

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Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México D.F., Mexico.


Streptomycin is the antibiotic of choice to treat tuberculosis and other infectious diseases but it causes vestibular malfunction and hipoacusia. Rodents are usually employed as models of drug action to the inner ear and results are extrapolated to what happens in humans. In rats, streptomycin destroys macular sensory cells and does not affect cochlear ones, whereas in guinea pigs the contrary is true. Action on the vestibular cristae cells involved in vestibulo-ocular reflex integrity is less clear. Thus, we compared this response in both pigmented guinea pigs (Cavia cobaya) and rats (Rattus norvegicus) after parallel streptomycin chronic treatment. In guinea pigs, the reflex was obliterated along treatment time; in rats this behavior was not observed, suggesting that the end organ target was diverse. In recent studies, streptidine, a streptomycin derivative found in the blood of humans and rats treated with streptomycin, was the actual ototoxic agent. The putative streptomycin vestibular organ target observed in humans corresponds with the guinea pig observations. Results observed in rats are controversial: streptidine did not cause any damage either to vestibular cristae nor auditory cells. We hypothesize differential drug metabolism and distribution and conclude that results in laboratory animals may not always be applicable in the human situation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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