Researchers believe they found a supplement that can prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is considered a vitamin B3, and scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College and the Gladstone Institutes say that this compound can protect the nerve that feed the cochlea, which transmits sound information through those nerves to the spiral ganglion, which sends the information on to the brain. With exposure to loud noises, the synapses that connect the nerves to cells in the cochlea get damaged. This results in noise-induced hearing loss, according to Science Daily.
The researchers tested supplementing mice with NR before and after being exposed to loud noises. As hoped, NR was able to prevent damage to the nerves from loud sounds, a press released explained. As a result of the supplementation protecting the nerves, the researchers were able to avoid short term hearing loss and long term hearing loss. Interestingly, the supplementation was successful at preventing the hearing loss whether it was given before or after exposure to the loud noises.
“One of the major limitations in managing disorders of the inner ear, including hearing loss, is there are a very limited number of treatments options. This discovery identifies a unique pathway and a potential drug therapy to treat noise-induced hearing loss,” said Dr. Kevin Brown, the first author of the paper, which was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
“NR gets into cells very readily and can be absorbed when you take it orally. It has all the properties that you would expect in a medicine that could be administered to people,” Dr. Jaffrey, a professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell, explained.
The research team also found that the NR supplementation might have other benefits to people. NR, they say, increases activation of the protein sirtuin 3 (SIRT3). This protein is considered critically important to the function of mitochondria.
Research into the health benefits of protecting against mitochondrial damage has been explored in connection with numerous metabolic syndromes. The researchers explained how far-reaching the implications of the noise-induced hearing loss study could be.
“The success of this study suggests that targeting SIRT3 using NR could be a viable target for treating all sorts of aging-related disorders–not only hearing loss but also metabolic syndromes like obesity, pulmonary hypertension, and even diabetes.”
The researchers also mentioned that some people have different versions of SIRT3 genes that end up leaving the individuals with decreased enzyme activity. These people may benefit from supplementation because they might be more susceptible to many conditions — including noise-induced hearing loss.
[Photo via Department of Veterans Affairs]