HYPOTHESIS - Polymer-eluted dexamethasone (DXM) will retain its ability to protect against tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha)-induced hair cell (HC) loss.
BACKGROUND - TNFalpha has been shown to be associated with trauma-induced hearing loss. DXM has been demonstrated to protect the cochlea against trauma-induced hearing loss. DXM is currently administered either systemically or locally to treat patients with sudden hearing loss of unknown cause.
METHODS - P-3 organ of Corti explants challenged with an ototoxic level of TNFalpha was the experimental system, and the base form of DXM (DXMb) incorporated into a biorelease polymer (i.e., SIBS) was the otoprotection molecule tested. The efficacy of otoprotection was determined by counts of fluorescein isothiocyanate-phalloidin-stained HCs and changes in gene expression.
RESULTS - HC counts show 1) SIBS alone did not protect HCs from TNFalpha ototoxicity (SIBS versus SIBS + TNFalpha; p < 0.001), and 2) SIBS with DXMb provides a significant level of protection against TNFalpha-induced loss of HCs (TNFalpha + SIBS versus TNFalpha + SIBS/DXMb, 299 mug; p < 0.001). Gene expression results show that polymer-eluted DXMb 1) upregulates antiapoptotic genes (i.e., Bcl-2, Bcl-xl) and downregulates a proapoptotic gene (i.e., Bax) in TNFalpha-challenged explants and 2) downregulates TNFR1 in these explants.
CONCLUSION - Polymer-eluted DXMb retains its otoprotection capabilities in our in vitro test system of TNFalpha-challenged organ of Corti explants by altering the pattern of gene expression to favor survival of TNFalpha-exposed HCs. These results, although in vitro, support the application of polymer containing DXMb to electrode arrays for the conservation of hearing during cochlear implantation.