Dual Drug Delivery in Cochlear Implants: In Vivo Study of Dexamethasone Combined with Diclofenac or Immunophilin Inhibitor MM284 in Guinea Pigs
Cochlear implants are well established to treat severe hearing impairments. Despite many different approaches to reduce the formation of connective tissue after electrode insertion and to keep electrical impedances low, results are not yet satisfying. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to combine the incorporation of 5% dexamethasone in the silicone body of the electrode array with an additional polymeric coating releasing diclofenac or the immunophilin inhibitor MM284, some anti-inflammatory substances not yet tested in the inner ear. Guinea pigs were implanted for four weeks and hearing thresholds were determined before implantation and after the observation time. Impedances were monitored over time and, finally, connective tissue and the survival of spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) were quantified. Impedances increased in all groups to a similar extent but this increase was delayed in the groups with an additional release of diclofenac or MM284. Using Poly-L-lactide (PLLA)-coated electrodes, the damage caused during insertion was much higher than without the coating. Only in these groups, connective tissue could extend to the apex of the cochlea. Despite this, numbers of SGNs were only reduced in PLLA and PLLA plus diclofenac groups. Even though the polymeric coating was not flexible enough, MM284 seems to especially have potential for further evaluation in connection with cochlear implantation.