Interaction of Tamoxifen and noise-induced damage to the cochlea

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Tamoxifen has been used extensively in the treatment of breast cancer and other neoplasms. In addition to its well-known action on estrogen receptors it is also known to acutely block chloride channels that participate in cell volume regulation. Tamoxifen’s role in preventing cochlear outer hair cell (OHC) swelling in vitro suggested that OHC swelling noted following noise exposure could potentially be a therapeutic target for Tamoxifen in its role as a chloride channel blocker to help prevent noise-induced hearing loss. To investigate this possibility, the effects of exposure to Tamoxifen on physiologic measures of cochlear function in the presence and absence of subsequent noise exposure were studied. Male Mongolian gerbils (2–4 months old) were randomly assigned to different groups. Tamoxifen at ∼10 mg/kg was administered to one of the groups. Five hours later they were exposed to a one-third octave band of noise centered at 8 kHz in a sound-isolation chamber for 30 min at 108 dB SPL. Compound action potential (CAP) thresholds and distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) levels were measured 30–35 days following noise exposure. Tamoxifen administration did not produce any changes in CAP thresholds and DPOAE levels when administered by itself in the absence of noise. Tamoxifen causes a significant increase in CAP thresholds from 8 to 15 kHz following noise exposure compared to CAP thresholds in animals exposed to noise alone. No significant differences were seen in the DPOAE levels in the f2 = 8–15 kHz frequency range where maximum noise-induced increases in CAP thresholds were seen. Contrary to our original expectation, it is concluded that Tamoxifen potentiates the degree of damage to the cochlea resulting from noise exposure.

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