A research team from the University of Leicester has made a discovery which helps them to understand how damage to myelin - the protective sheet around the cells –changes the transmission of auditory signals when exposed to loud sounds, thus increasing the risk of hearing loss.
Previous research has shown how exposure to loud noises can damage the myelin. A three-year study has now determined that there is a closer link between the deficits of the myelin in the sheet surrounding the auditory nerve and hearing loss.
If the myelin is damaged, the auditory signals fail to be transmitted along the auditory nerve from the cochlea to the brain, which causes hearing loss.
The use of insight
Understanding the cellular mechanism behind hearing loss and tinnitus due to loud noise exposure gives the researchers an opportunity to develop strategies to alleviate or prevent it from happening, for example by using specific drug therapies.
“Consequently, targeting myelin and promoting its repair after exposure to loud sound could be proven effective in noise induced hearing loss,” said Dr Martine Hamann, lecturer in Neuroscience at University of Leicester.
The study was published in The Journal of Neuroscience.