Study of Methylene Blue Ototoxicity in the Guinea Pig

Sarah Belhassen, Musaed Alzahrani, Marc-Elie Nader, Louis Gaboury, Issam Saliba


Background: Methylene blue is widely used in the medical field, especially as a blue dye for staining. It is also used as a photosensitizing agent in antimicrobial photodynamic therapy, which once photoactivated is effective for the eradication of several multi-resistant bacteria. The objective of this study was to investigate the ototoxic potential of methylene blue and precise its use in otology.

Methods: It was a prospective animal study performed on guinea pigs in our tertiary medical center. We divided the animals into two groups: an experimental group and a control group, who underwent a series of three intratympanic (IT) injections. In the control group (n = 10), they received injections of gentamicin in one ear (positive control) and normal saline in the contralateral ear (negative control). The experimental group (n = 10) received injections of methylene blue in one ear, compared to injections of normal saline in the contralateral ear. We conducted auditory-evoked brainstem response (ABR) before and 1 week after the injection series. Once this is completed, the cochlea was dissected and caspase-3 was analyzed by immunohistochemistry.

Results: The mean difference of hearing loss in the methylene blue group compared to normal saline was 1.50 dB, and it was not shown to be statistically significant (P = 0.688). For the positive control group, which received IT injections of gentamicin, the mean threshold of hearing loss difference for all the frequencies combined was 66.25 dB (P < 0.001). Furthermore, uptake of caspase-3 by immunohistochemistry (apoptotic marker) was negative in our group, which received injections of methylene blue.

Conclusion: In light of our results, IT injections of methylene blue did not demonstrate an ototoxic potential. We recommend further studies to precise its use in the otologic field.

J Clin Med Res. 2017;9(11):900-906


Hearing loss; Intratympanic injection; Methylene blue; Ototoxicity; Immunohistochemistry

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