Insensitivity of the chicken embryo to the ototoxicity of aminoglycoside antibiotics and a loop diuretic

J. D. Fikes, J. A. Render, W. M. Reed, S. Bursian, R. H. Poppenga, S. D. Sleight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Guinea pigs are routinely used in the histological evaluation of the cochlea as a method of testing for ototoxicity, but the procedures are very time-consuming. Because the avian cochlea is easier to examine and newly hatched chicks are sensitive to the ototoxic effects of gentamicin, birds may be useful in testing for ototoxicity. The use of chicken embryos would be even better for testing, but whether or not chicken embryos are sensitive to ototoxicants is unknown. In an attempt to determine whether or not chicken embryos may be used instead of guinea pigs in screening tests for ototoxicity, aminoglycoside antibiotics and a loop diuretic, ethacrynic acid, were administered to chicken embryos. A maximum-tolerated dose of gentamicin, kanamycin, streptomycin, ethacrynic acid, or a combination of gentamicin and ethacrynic acid was administered to fertile eggs of White Leghorn chickens on incubation days 10-17. To compare the effect of route of exposure on ototoxicity, gentamicin was administered by injection into the allantoic space, yolk sac, and air cell as well as by submerging the egg in gentamicin solution. With the preferred air cell route the effects of the ototoxic drugs kanamycin, streptomycin, ethacrynic acid, and a combination of ethacrynic acid and gentamicin were compared. On incubation day 18, cochleas were removed from the chicken embryos. Serial sections of these avian cochleas were examined and hair cells were counted. No significant difference was seen between the number of hair cells in cochleas of control chicken embryos and those from chicken embryos treated with drugs. Therefore, the chicken embryo appears to be insensitive to the ototoxicity of aminoglycoside antibiotics and a loop diuretic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-14
Number of pages5
JournalToxicologic Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Cochlea
  • ethacrynic acid
  • gentamicin
  • kanamycin
  • nephrotoxicity
  • streptomycin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Toxicology


Dive into the research topics of 'Insensitivity of the chicken embryo to the ototoxicity of aminoglycoside antibiotics and a loop diuretic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this