Research Topic

Cellular Mechanisms of Ototoxicity

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The auditory perception of sounds (environmental, speech or music) is one of the 5 principal senses consciously monitored by our brains, and is hugely important for all human endeavors and one’s quality of life. Loss of optimal performance in this principal sensory system leads to loss of effective ...

The auditory perception of sounds (environmental, speech or music) is one of the 5 principal senses consciously monitored by our brains, and is hugely important for all human endeavors and one’s quality of life. Loss of optimal performance in this principal sensory system leads to loss of effective communication and intimacy, as well as increased risk of isolation, depression, cognitive decline, and greater vulnerability to predators.

The vestibular system ensures that individuals remain upright and effectively monitor their posture within their spatial surroundings, move effectively, and remain focused on visual targets during motion. The loss of vestibular inputs results in postural instability, falls, inability to observe the environment during motion, and a debilitating incapacity to function effectively. The sensory cells for both auditory and vestibular systems are located within the inner ear of the temporal bulla.

There are many causes of auditory and vestibular deficits, including congenital (or genetic) events, trauma, aging and loud sound exposures. Ototoxicity refers to damage of the auditory or vestibular structures or functions, as the result of exposure to certain pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and/or ionizing radiation exposure that damage the inner ear. Ototoxicity is a major contributor to acquired hearing loss and vestibular deficits, and is in theory, entirely preventable.

In 2009, the United States Department of Defense initiated the Hearing Center of Excellence (HCE), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, as a response to the prevalence of auditory deficits due to preventable causes in military and veteran populations. The knowledge shared in this Research Topic will support the HCE’s mandate to improve aural protection of military personnel, as well as civilian populations worldwide.

In this Research Topic devoted to ototoxicity, we will focus on the cellular mechanisms underlying hearing loss and vestibular dysfunction. Selected articles will also discuss candidate otoprotective agents that can ameliorate the effects of ototoxicity in the context of how they illustrate cellular mechanisms of ototoxicity.


Keywords: ototoxicity, otoprotection, Aminoglycosides, Platinum-based drugs, blood-labyrinth barrier, drug trafficking, ototoxic synergism, sensory disorders, metalotoxicity, neurotoxicity, occupational safety


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