Background: Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play an important role in several pathogenic processes, damaging various structural and functional cellular components. The endothelium is at major risk of radical-induced lesions and this damage is most manifest in microcirculation. It has been recently observed that ROS are implicated in the pathology of the inner ear and the peripheral and central pathways. In a previous study we detected high serum values of ROS in subjects with idiopathic tinnitus. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the validity of antioxidant treatment in tinnitus sufferers with high ROS values.
Methods: The study considered 31 consecutive patients with unilateral idiopathic tinnitus. The mean pure tone audiometric threshold (PTA), tinnitus loudness, subjective disturbance level [visual analogue scale (VAS) determination], and the indirect ROS dosage 48 h before and after medical treatment were evaluated. Patients underwent an 18-week oral treatment with a mix of phospholipids and vitamins (glycerophosphorylcholine, glycerophosphorylethanolamine, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E).
Results: ROS levels were significantly reduced following antioxidant treatment (malonaldehyde: 2.10 vs. 1.98 mumol/dL, p = 0.003; 4-hydroxynonenal: 2.36 vs. 2.16 mumol/dL, p = 0.002) In addition, great improvement was observed in the reduction of tinnitus (VAS and tinnitus loudness evaluations). No significant changes in audiometric threshold occurred.
Conclusions: Oral antioxidant therapy in patients with idiopathic tinnitus seems to reduce the subjective discomfort and tinnitus intensity and may be considered as an additional treatment modality.