Resveratrol protects against Acoustic Trauma


© JB London (cc-by-nc)

Should red wine be prescribed before a concert? The idea is not as crazy as it sounds if we believe recent studies on Resveratrol, a polyphenol present in red grapes and red wine. This molecule has indeed the ability to reduce the expression of the COX-2 protein and the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), two phenomena observed following exposure to intense noise. In fact, when the COX-2 protein is overexpressed, it engages into anti-inflammatory mechanisms; as for ROS, they are produced abundantly following oxidative stress.

A few years ago, a research team led by Dr. Seidman, ENT doctor at Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan, had already shown that the injection of Resveratrol in rats reduced their hearing loss following prolonged exposure to noise (lower thresholds decrease), demonstrating that this molecule possesses protective properties.(1)

This time, the same team of scientists revealed the mechanism of action of this antioxidant.(2) To do this, they exposed rats to acoustic trauma, for shorter or longer periods going up to 24 hours. They then measured the expression levels of the COX-2 protein and the production of ROS before, during and after the sound stimulus, from samples taken at the cochlea from these laboratory mice.

The results show that the expression of COX-2 protein begins eight hours after the stimulus and the peak of expression is at 32 hours post-stimulation, confirming that its overexpression is a reaction to acoustic trauma. Similarly, the researchers noted a significant increase of ROS in the blood, after stimulation.

These phenomena were also observed in rats pretreated with Resveratrol, but to a lesser extent, indicating that this molecule, known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, has an inhibitory effect on the expression of COX-2 protein and on the production of ROS.

It is however likely that other mechanisms are involved in these two phenomena, but they remain to be investigated.

(1) Seidman M. et al. Effects of Resveratrol on Acoustic Trauma. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2003; 129(5) 463-470

(2) Seidman M. et al. Resveratrol Decreases Noise-Induced Cyclooxygenase-2 Expression in the Rat Cochlea. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2013