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Increased oxidative stress, inflammation, and glutamate: Potential preventive and therapeutic targets for hearing disorders


Hearing disorders constitute one of the major health concerns in the USA. Decades of basic and clinical studies have identified numerous ototoxic agents and investigated their modes of action on the inner ear, utilizing tissue culture as well as animal and human models. Current preventive and therapeutic approaches are considered unsatisfactory. Therefore, additional modalities should be developed. Many studies suggest that increased levels of oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and glutamate play an important role in the initiation and progression of damage to the inner ear leading to hearing impairments. To prevent these cellular deficits, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and antagonists of glutamate receptor have been used individually or in combination with limited success. It is essential, therefore, to simultaneously enhance the levels of antioxidant enzymes by activating the Nrf2 (a nuclear transcriptional factor) pathway, dietary and endogenous antioxidant compounds, and B12-vitamins in order to reduce the levels of oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and glutamate at the same time. This review presents evidence to show that increased levels of these cellular metabolites, biochemical or factors are involved in the pathogenesis of cochlea leading to hearing impairments. It presents scientific rationale for the use of a mixture of micronutrients that may decrease the levels of oxidative damage, chronic inflammation, and glutamate at the same time. The benefits for using oral administration of proposed micronutrient mixture in humans are presented. Animal and limited human studies indirectly suggest that orally administered micronutrients can accumulate in the inner ear. Therefore, this route of administration may be useful in prevention, and in combination with standard care, in improved management of hearing problems following exposure to well-recognized and studied ototoxic agents, such as noise, cisplatin, aminoglycoside antibiotics, and advanced age.

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