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BACKGROUND: The use of artemisinin derivatives has increased exponentially with the deployment of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) in all malarious areas. They are highly effective and are considered safe, but in animal studies artemisinin derivatives produce neurotoxicity targeting mainly the auditory and vestibular pathways. The debate remains as to whether artemisinin derivatives induce similar toxicity in humans. METHODS: This prospective study assessed the effects on auditory function of a standard 3-day oral dose of artesunate (4 mg/kg/day) combined with mefloquine (25 mg/kg) in patients with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria treated at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, on the Thai-Burmese border. A complete auditory evaluation with tympanometry, audiometry and auditory brainstem responses (ABR) was performed before the first dose and seven days after initiation of the antimalarial treatment. RESULTS: Complete auditory tests at day 0 (D0) and day 7 (D7) were obtained for 93 patients. Hearing loss (threshold > 25 dB) on admission was common (57%) and associated with age only. No patient had a threshold change exceeding 10 dB between D0 and D7 at any tested frequency. No patient showed a shift in Wave III peak latency of more than 0.30 msec between baseline and D7. CONCLUSION: Neither audiometric or the ABR tests showed clinical evidence of auditory toxicity seven days after receiving oral artesunate and mefloquine.

Original publication

DOI

10.1186/1475-2875-7-233

Type

Journal article

Journal

Malar J

Publication Date

06/11/2008

Volume

7

Keywords

Acoustic Impedance Tests, Adolescent, Adult, Antimalarials, Artemisinins, Artesunate, Audiometry, Drug Therapy, Combination, Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem, Female, Hearing Loss, Humans, Malaria, Falciparum, Male, Mefloquine, Middle Aged, Thailand