Background Ototoxicity is a severe side effect of aminoglycoside antibiotics. Aminoglycosides are recommended for the treatment of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) appears to protect against drug- and noise-induced hearing loss. This review aimed to determine if coadministering NAC with aminoglycoside affected ototoxicity development, and to assess the safety and tolerability of prolonged NAC administration.
Methods Eligible studies reported on the efficacy of concomitant NAC and aminoglycoside administration for ototoxicity prevention or long-term (≥6 weeks) administration of NAC regardless of indication. Pooled estimates were calculated using a fixed-effects model. Heterogeneity was assessed using the I2 statistic.
Results Three studies reported that NAC reduced ototoxicity in 146 patients with end-stage renal failure receiving aminoglycosides. Pooled relative risk for otoprotection at 4–6 weeks was 0.14 (95% CI 0.05 to 0.45), and the risk difference was −33.3% (95% CI 45.5% to 21.2%). Eighty-three studies (N=9988) described the administration of NAC for >6 weeks. Abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and arthralgia were increased 1.4–2.2 times.
Discussion This review provides evidence for the safety and otoprotective effect of NAC when coadministered with aminoglycoside. It represents a strong justification for a clinical trial to investigate the effect of concomitant NAC treatment in patients receiving aminoglycosides as part of MDR-TB treatment.