A study found that an antioxidant regimen of beta carotene (precursor to vitamin A), vitamins C and E and magnesium helped slow progression of hereditary deafness in mice, with a deletion in Connexin 26 gene — a protein found on the gene and the most common cause of innate hearing loss.
Connexin 26 alterations are responsible for at least 20 percent of all genetic hearing loss and 10 percent of all childhood hearing loss.
“Our findings suggest that a particular high dose of mineral and vitamin supplements may be beneficial to one genetic mutation,” said one of the authors Yehoash Raphael, professor at the Michigan University.
But, the enhanced diet had the opposite effect on another altered mouse modelling with auditory neuropathy — a rare type of hearing loss.
The negative outcome in this mouse model suggested that different mutations might respond to the special diet in different ways, the researchers noted.
Mice in the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, received the antioxidant regimen post-natally and in the womb in separate experiments.
In the Connexin 26 mouse model, the enhanced diet was associated with a slower progression of hearing loss and small but significant improvement in hearing thresholds.
However, the mice with auditory neuropathy experienced the opposite outcome, showing accelerated progression of deafness following the diet.
The research follows a case study University of Michigan published in 2015 in which the same nutritional supplements were associated with slowing the progression of deafness for a boy with a Connexin 26 mutation.
Antioxidants have been shown to reduce the impact of oxidative stress in neuronal disorders, cancer, heart diseases and inflammatory diseases.