Korean red ginseng prevents gentamicin-induced hearing loss in rats§


  • This study was presented at the Collegium Oto-Rhino-Laryngologicum Amicitiae Sacrum in Budapest, Hungary, August 22–25, 2010.

  • This work was supported by a 2009 grant from the Korean Society of Ginseng funded by the Korea Ginseng Corporation and by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (2010-0010678).

  • §

    The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.



To evaluate the preventive effects of Korean red ginseng (KRG) on gentamicin (GM)-induced ototoxicity and to identify the effective components of KRG.

Study Design:

In vivo and in vitro studies.


Thirty-five Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into four groups. The GM group (n = 15) received intraperitoneal injections (IPI) of GM (160 mg/kg) for 5 days. The KRG + GM group (n = 12) was treated with intragastric feeding of KRG (500 mg/kg) for 12 days with 5 days of IPIs of GM. KRG (n = 4) and control (n = 4) groups were treated with KRG and saline, respectively. Auditory brainstem response (16 or 32 kHz) and Rotarod treadmill tests were done before and after treatments. Cochleas were evaluated by a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and phalloidin staining. Ginsenosides Rb1, Rb2, Rg1, and Re were evaluated as the water-soluble terazolium salt assay, annexin V/propidium iodide assay, and Western blots in HEI-OC1 cells.


Posttreatment hearing thresholds in GM, KRG + GM, KRG, and control groups were: 27.7 ± 7.2 dB, 23.1 ± 4.1 dB, 16.9 ± 2.6 dB, and 21.3 ± 3.5 dB, respectively, for 16 kHz, 30.5 ± 6.6 dB, 25.2 ± 4.3 dB, 22.5 ± 2.7 dB, and 22.5 ± 3.8 dB, respectively for 32 kHz. The KRG + GM group had significantly better hearing than the GM group (P < .05). On SEM and phalloidin staining, the GM group showed severe loss of stereocilia in the basal outer hair cells and a few losses in the middle turns, whereas the KRG + GM group showed relatively intact hair cells. Balance impairment in treadmill tests was not definite in any group. Rb1 and Rb2 showed more effective protection than other components.


KRG protects against GM-induced hearing loss and hair cell death in rats. Laryngoscope, 2011