Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with the etiologies of sensorineural hearing loss, such as age-related hearing loss, noise- and ototoxic drug-induced hearing loss, as well as hearing loss due to mitochondrial gene mutation. Mitochondria are the main sources of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and ROS-induced oxidative stress is involved in cochlear damage. Moreover, the release of ROS causes further damage to mitochondrial components. Antioxidants are thought to counteract the deleterious effects of ROS and thus, may be effective for the treatment of oxidative stress-related diseases. The administration of mitochondria-targeted antioxidants is one of the drug delivery systems targeted to mitochondria. Mitochondria-targeted antioxidants are expected to help in the prevention and/or treatment of diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. Of the various mitochondria-targeted antioxidants, the protective effects of MitoQ and SkQR1 against ototoxicity have been previously evaluated in animal models and/or mouse auditory cell lines. MitoQ protects against both gentamicin- and cisplatin-induced ototoxicity. SkQR1 also provides auditory protective effects against gentamicin-induced ototoxicity. On the other hand, decreasing effect of MitoQ on gentamicin-induced cell apoptosis in auditory cell lines has been controversial. No clinical studies have been reported for otoprotection using mitochondrial-targeted antioxidants. High-quality clinical trials are required to reveal the therapeutic effect of mitochondria-targeted antioxidants in terms of otoprotection in patients.
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