Hair cell (HC) death is the leading cause of hearing and balance disorders in humans. It can be triggered by multiple insults, including noise, aging, and treatment with certain therapeutic drugs. As society becomes more technologically advanced, the source of noise pollution and the use of drugs with ototoxic side effects are rapidly increasing, posing a threat to our hearing health. Although the underlying mechanism by which ototoxins affect auditory function varies, they share common intracellular byproducts, particularly generation of reactive oxygen species. Here, we described the therapeutic effect of the heterocyclic compound quinoxaline (Qx) against ototoxic insults in zebrafish HCs. Animals incubated with Qx were protected against the deleterious effects of cisplatin and gentamicin, and partially against neomycin. In the presence of Qx, there was a reduction in the number of TUNEL-positive HCs. Since Qx did not block the mechanotransduction channels, based on FM1-43 uptake and microphonic potentials, this implies that Qx’s otoprotective effect is at the intracellular level. Together, these results unravel a novel therapeutic role for Qx as an otoprotective drug against the deleterious side effects of cisplatin and aminoglycosides, offering an alternative option for patients treated with these compounds.
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