Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original article
A systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of N-acetylcysteine in preventing aminoglycoside-induced ototoxicity: implications for the treatment of multidrug-resistant TB
  1. Katharina Kranzer1,2,
  2. Wael F Elamin1,
  3. Helen Cox3,
  4. James A Seddon4,
  5. Nathan Ford5,
  6. Francis Drobniewski1,6
  1. 1National Mycobacterium Reference Laboratory, Public Health England, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3Division of Medical Microbiology and Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  4. 4Department of Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Imperial College London, St Mary's Hospital, London, UK
  5. 5Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  6. 6Department of Infectious Diseases, Imperial College, The Hammersmith Campus, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katharina Kranzer, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK; katharina.kranzer{at}


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.

  • Tuberculosis

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

  • Airwaves
    Nicholas Hart Gisli Jenkins Alan Smyth