Sensorineural hearing loss – which is caused by damage to the sensitive hair cells that line the inner ear – is one of the most common sensory disorders in humans. It can be the result of wear and tear from age, or it can be noise induced.
Unfortunately the hair cells of the inner ear don’t recover once they’re damaged or lost, and there’s currently no effective treatment to recover hearing loss. For years scientists have been searching for a medical breakthrough that will protect against hearing damage or enhance the recovery of damaged hearing, including blood flow-promoting drugs and antioxidants.
A new study, published in the journal ‘Nature’ has shown that pyrroloquinoline quinone, or PQQ, may have the potential to protect the auditory system from both noise-induced and age-related hearing loss.
PQQ is a vitamin-like compound that’s found in a variety of foods, including fermented soybeans, tea, green peppers, parsley, dark chocolate and kiwi fruit. It’s a powerful antioxidant that has been thought for some time to protect nerve cells against damage. The study, which involved administering PQQ to mice, discovered that the compound protected against noise-induced and age-related hearing loss.
The good news is that PQQ can be given safely to humans – indeed you can already buy supplements of it that help with mental focus and brain function. However, its potential for the treatment and prevention of sensorineural hearing loss in humans has yet to be explored. However, with the findings of the new study, that may be set to change.