HYPOTHESIS: Drugs applied to the middle ear enter perilymph through the bony otic capsule. BACKGROUND: Drugs applied intratympanically in humans are thought to enter the cochlea primarily through the round window membrane (RWM). Local drug treatments of the ear are commonly evaluated in rodent models. The otic capsule is much thinner at the cochlear apex in rodents than in humans. We therefore investigated whether drugs applied to the middle ear could enter perilymph through the otic capsule as well as through the RWM. METHODS: The distribution of gentamicin and the marker trimethylphenylammonium (TMPA) along the guinea pig cochlea was assessed with sequential apical perilymph sampling after 2 delivery paradigms that included 1) completely filling the tympanic bulla with solution and 2) applying the solution to the RWM only. In addition, TMPA entry into perilymph of the third turn was measured with ion-selective electrodes after the bulla was filled with TMPA solution. RESULTS: In application protocols that allowed drug to contact the otic capsule (by completely filling the bulla), markedly higher drug concentrations were found in the apical, low-frequency regions of the cochlea compared with drug applications to the RWM only. CONCLUSION: Gentamicin and TMPA can enter perilymph of guinea pigs through the RWM and simultaneously through the bony otic capsule. Drug distribution along the cochlea after intratympanic applications will therefore be dramatically different in rodents and humans. Results obtained from intratympanic drug treatments of animals, in which the bulla is filled with solution and contacts the bony capsule of the cochlea, do not provide a good model for the situation in humans.
- Intratympanic drug delivery
- Round window membrane