Hair Cell Toxicity in Anti-cancer Drugs: Evaluating an Anti-cancer Drug Library for Independent and Synergistic Toxic Effects on Hair Cells Using the Zebrafish Lateral Line.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology : JARO, Volume 12, Issue 6, p.719-728 (2011)


2011, Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, Biological Assay, Cell Count, Cell Death, Center-Authored Paper, Clinical Research Division, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor, Drug Synergism, Female, Hair Cells, Auditory, Inner, Human Biology Division, Humans, Lateral Line System/, Male, September 2011, zebrafish


Inner ear hair cell loss is the most common pathology seen after ototoxic drug injury. While certain drugs such as aminoglycosides and cisplatin are well-known to have dramatic ototoxic effects, it is probable that there are other drugs that cause occult degrees of hair cell loss and lesser degrees of hearing loss. Anti-cancer drugs are particularly strong candidates due to their general cytotoxicity. We have screened a library of 88 anti-cancer drugs (National Cancer Institute Approved Oncology Drugs Set) for drugs that damage hair cells of the zebrafish lateral line. The screen identified four out of five known ototoxic drugs. The screen also identified four out of seven suspected ototoxic drugs (drugs that have isolated case reports of patients developing hearing loss after administration). Five additional drugs with no known ototoxicity were identified as potentially novel ototoxins. Additional dose-response curves were performed to evaluate relative toxicity. Since anti-cancer drugs are often used clinically in combination, we also performed dose-response curves for a variety of anti-cancer drug combinations and demonstrated synergistic toxicity in five out of ten drug combinations that we tested. These findings support the use of the zebrafish lateral line as a screening tool to detect ototoxic effects in drugs and also suggest that ototoxicity should be considered in terms of drug regimens rather than individual drugs.