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E Zemel, A Loewenstein, B Lei, M Lazar, I Perlman; Ocular pigmentation protects the rabbit retina from gentamicin-induced toxicity.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1995;36(9):1875-1884. doi: https://doi.org/.
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PURPOSE: This study was designed to investigate the possibility that gentamicin-induced retinal toxicity is dependent on ocular pigmentation by comparing the effects of the drug on the functional and morphologic integrity of the retina in albino and pigmented rabbits. METHODS: In each rabbit, a solution of gentamicin sulfate was injected into the vitreous of one eye, and saline was injected into the other eye. Retinal function was assessed by electroretinogram (ERG) at different time intervals after injection. Retinal structure was examined at the light microscopic level. RESULTS: In albino and pigmented rabbits, functional retinal damage developed to a maximal level within the first week after gentamicin injection. Thereafter, gradual recovery could be seen in eyes that suffered less than 80% maximal reduction in the ERG b-wave. For each dose >0.1 mg studied, retinal damage was more severe in the albino rabbits than in the pigmented ones. The degree of damage was not affected by the level of ambient illumination, nor was it reduced by the administration of N-acetylcystein, a free radical scavenger, together with gentamicin. CONCLUSIONS: Ocular pigmentation partially protects the rabbit retina from the toxic action of gentamicin. This protection probably reflects binding of the drug by the melanin, which thereby reduces the concentration of the free gentamicin. When the initial gentamicin-induced retinal damage is expressed in < 80% reduction in the ERG, substantial recovery may occur in both strains of rabbits.
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