Inflammation in a sound-processing region of the brain mediates ringing in the ears in mice that have noise-induced hearing loss, according to a study publishing June 18 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Shaowen Bao of the University of Arizona, and colleagues.
Hearing loss is a widespread condition that affects approximately 500 million individuals, and is a major risk factor for tinnitus—the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. Recent studies indicate that hearing loss causes inflammation—the immune system’s response to injury and infection—in the auditory pathway. But its contribution to hearing loss-related conditions such as tinnitus is still poorly understood. To address this gap in knowledge, Bao and his colleagues examined neuroinflammation—inflammation that affects the nervous system—in the auditory cortex of the brain following noise-induced hearing loss, and its role in tinnitus, in rodent models.
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