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Mechanism-Based Prevention of Noise-Induced Tinnitus: Protection and Repair of Peripheral Auditory Neuropathy

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[Technical Report, Annual Report]

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Studies test a potential treatment for noise-induced tinnitus in the rat model. We hypothesize that noise-induced loss of synaptic connection between Inner Hair Cells IHC and the auditory nerve AN contributes to the induction of tinnitus and rapidly repairing this loss will therefore decrease the incidence of tinnitus. Treatment with the neurotrophic factor NT-3 was previously shown by our consultant Dr. Corfas to induce significant IHC-AN synapse reconnection after a different type of noise in his mouse model Suzuki et al., 2016. During the first year of studies we have found that we can duplicate these results using a more military relevant small arms fire SAF-like noise in the rat model, showing a large and significant re-connection described later in Section 3 of the Results Section. NT-3 in poloxamer was applied to the round window with the trans-tympanic approach that has been successfully applied in people for other treatments. These results show that it is possible to reverse noise induced synaptic loss from a military relevant noise exposure with a treatment paradigm that can be applied to those in the service. Such noise-induced synapse loss can cause a Hidden Hearing Loss that can impair speech understanding Liberman et al., 2016, 2017. Therefore, the ability to repair and reverse Hidden Hearing Loss has immediate impact. The major goal, however, is to test if such reconnection will decrease or prevent the later development of tinnitus and that is the focus of the next stage of our ongoing studies. Studies are now underway to determine if this rapid reconnection from NT-3 treatment will decreases the incidence of noise induced tinnitus compared to noise exposed rats without treatment. If successful, this would provide a military relevant treatment to prevent and treat noise-induced tinnitus.

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  • Medicine and Medical Research

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[A, Approved For Public Release]