Cisplatin is a highly effective chemotherapeutic agent that is widely used to treat solid organ malignancies. However, serious side effects have been associated with its use, such as bilateral, progressive, irreversible, dose-dependent neurosensory hearing loss. Current evidence indicates that cisplatin triggers the production of reactive oxygen species in target tissues in the inner ear. A variety of agents that protect against cisplatin-induced ototoxicity have been successfully tested in cell culture and animal models. However, many of them interfere with the therapeutic effect of cisplatin, and therefore are not suitable for systemic administration in clinical practice. Consequently, local administration strategies, namely intratympanic administration, have been developed to achieve otoprotection, without reducing the antitumoral effect of cisplatin. While a considerable amount of pre-clinical information is available, clinical data on treatments to prevent cisplatin ototoxicity are only just beginning to appear. This review summarizes clinical and experimental studies of cisplatin ototoxicity, and focuses on understanding its toxicity mechanisms, clinical repercussions and prevention strategies.
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