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mt-RNR1 and aminoglycosides


A class of antibiotics called aminoglycosides (ah-mee-no-GLY-keh-sides) includes medicines such as amikacin, gentamicin, plazomicin, streptomycin, and tobramycin. Aminoglycosides are effective antibiotics, but they can cause serious side effects including hearing loss. In some patients, the hearing loss can be permanent. But, it is hard to know which patients are at very high risk of hearing loss. If we know someone is at a very high risk of hearing loss, we might be able to substitute a different type of antibiotic.

Pharmacogenetic testing

DNA is like a set of instructions for your body that can help determine how your body will work. Each person differs from another at the DNA (gene) level. The study of how genes like mt-RNR1 affect the way your body interacts with medicines is called pharmacogenetics (FAR mah coh je NEH tiks).

Differences in your DNA that make up the mt-RNR1 gene can increase your risk of developing hearing loss from aminoglycosides. By testing your DNA (with a pharmacogenetic test), we may find differences that can allow us to predict if you are at very high risk of hearing loss from aminoglycosides. The results of this test will help your doctor decide whether or not you should receive aminoglycosides. The results of your mt-RNR1 pharmacogenetic test will place you into one of two groups:

  • Aminoglycoside Ototoxicity Susceptible: This means you have a type of the mt-RNR1 gene that increases your chance of having hearing loss after you receive these antibiotics. Only about 1 in 500 people are in this category.
  • Uncertain Aminoglycoside Ototoxicity Susceptibility: This means we did not find the type of the mt-RNR1 gene that increases the chances of hearing loss after you receive these antibiotics. Most people fall into this category. It is important to understand that these antibiotics might still cause hearing loss even for people in this category.

For more information about mt-RNR1 and aminoglycosides, please go to or


If you have questions or concerns about pharmacogenetic testing at St. Jude, call one of the Pharmaceutical Sciences research nurses at 901-595-2482 or email If you are calling from outside of the Memphis area, dial toll free 1-866-2ST-JUDE (1-866-278-5833), then dial extension 2482.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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