Aminoglycoside antibiotics rapidly enter and kill cochlear hair cells via apical mechanoelectrical transduction (MET) channels in vitro. In vivo, it remains unknown whether systemically-administered aminoglycosides cross the blood-labyrinth barrier into endolymph and enter hair cells. Here we show, for the first time, that systemic aminoglycosides are trafficked across the blood-endolymph barrier and preferentially enter hair cells across their apical membranes. This trafficking route is predominant compared to uptake via hair cell basolateral membranes during perilymph infusion.
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