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Resveratrol May Protect Against Harmful Effects Of Hearing Loss, Animal Study Shows

02/26/2013 07:41 am ET | Updated Mar 03, 2013

Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine and red grapes, has long been hailed for its antioxidants -- and now, a new animal study shows it could also protect against the harmful biological effects of hearing loss.

The study, conducted in rats, shows that resveratrol could have protective powers against hearing-loss-inducing noise. The findings are published online in the journal Otolarnygology-Head and Neck Surgery.

"Resveratrol is a very powerful chemical that seems to protect against the body's inflammatory process as it relates to aging, cognition and hearing loss," study researcher Michael D. Seidman, the director of the Division of Otologic/Neurotologic Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital, said in a statement.

For the study, researchers specifically looked at how resveratrol affected proteins known to play a role in the body's inflammation and cell signaling -- COX-2 and reactive oxygen species, respectively. They found that when rats were exposed to extremely loud noise, the COX-2 protein expression went up.

But when the rats were given the resveratrol, this protein expression was inhibited and oxygen species formation decreased. Plus, the rats experienced less hearing loss afterward.

"COX-2 levels are induced dramatically following noise exposure," the researchers wrote in the study. "This increased expression may be a potential mechanism of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and a possible mechanism of resveratrol's ability to mitigate NIHL by its ability to reduce COX-2 expression."

Because the study has only been conducted in animals, further research is needed to see if the findings also apply to humans. But still, resveratrol has been pointed to in other studies for its other body benefits, including its potential in improving seniors' mobility, protecting the body's blood vessels and decreasing levels of "bad" cholesterol, the Mayo Clinic reported.

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