Uptake of fluorescent gentamicin by peripheral vestibular cells after systemic administration

Jianping Liu, Allan Kachelmeier, Chunfu Dai, Hongzhe Li, Peter S. Steyger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: In addition to cochleotoxicity, systemic aminoglycoside pharmacotherapy causes vestibulotoxicity resulting in imbalance and visual dysfunction. The underlying trafficking routes of systemically-administered aminoglycosides from the vasculature to the vestibular sensory hair cells are largely unknown. We investigated the trafficking of systemically-administered gentamicin into the peripheral vestibular system in C56Bl/6 mice using fluorescence-tagged gentamicin (gentamicin-Texas-Red, GTTR) imaged by scanning laser confocal microscopy to determine the cellular distribution and intensity of GTTR fluorescence in the three semicircular canal cristae, utricular, and saccular maculae at 5 time points over 4 hours. Results: Low intensity GTTR fluorescence was detected at 0.5 hours as both discrete puncta and diffuse cytoplasmic fluorescence. The intensity of cytoplasmic fluorescence peaked at 3 hours, while punctate fluorescence was plateaued after 3 hours. At 0.5 and 1 hour, higher levels of diffuse GTTR fluorescence were present in transitional cells compared to hair cells and supporting cells. Sensory hair cells typically exhibited only diffuse cytoplasmic fluorescence at all time-points up to 4 hours in this study. In contrast, non-sensory cells rapidly exhibited both intense fluorescent puncta and weaker, diffuse fluorescence throughout the cytosol. The numbers and size of fluorescent puncta in dark cells and transitional cells increased over time. There is no preferential GTTR uptake by the five peripheral vestibular organs' sensory cells. Control vestibular tissues exposed to Dulbecco' s phosphate-buffered saline or hydrolyzed Texas Red had negligible fluorescence. Conclusions: All peripheral vestibular cells rapidly take up systemically-administered GTTR, reaching peak intensity 3 hours after injection. Sensory hair cells exhibited only diffuse fluorescence, while non-sensory cells displayed both diffuse and punctate fluorescence. Transitional cells may act as a primary pathway for trafficking of systemic GTTR from the vasculature to endolymph prior to entering hair cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0120612
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 20 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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