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The NLRP3 inflammasome as a target for sensorineural hearing loss.

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss in adults and occurs due to damage of the inner ear caused by a range of factors including ageing, excessive noise, toxins, and cancer. Auto-inflammatory disease is also a cause of hearing loss and there is evidence that inflammation could contribute to hearing loss in other conditions. Within the inner ear there are resident macrophage cells that respond to insults and whose activation correlates with damage. The NLRP3 inflammasome is a multi-molecular pro-inflammatory protein complex that forms in activated macrophages and may contribute to hearing loss. The aim of this article is to discuss the evidence for the NLRP3 inflammasome and associated cytokines as potential therapeutic targets for sensorineural hearing loss in conditions ranging from auto-inflammatory disease to tumour-induced hearing loss in vestibular schwannoma.

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