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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 107  |  Page : 77--89

Noise induced epigenetic effects: A systematic review

Section of Occupational Medicine, Department of Public Health, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy

Correspondence Address:
Luca Fontana
Professor, Section of Occupational Medicine, Department of Public Health, Section of Occupational Medicine, University of Naples Federico II, Via S. Pansini 5, 80131
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/nah.NAH_17_20

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Background: Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the leading causes of acquired sensorineural hearing loss. However, molecular mechanisms responsible for its pathogenesis remain to be elucidated. Epigenetic changes, i.e. DNA methylation, histone and microRNA expression modifications may function as a link between noise exposure and hearing loss. Therefore, the aim of the present review was to assess whether epigenetic alterations may serve as biomarkers of noise exposure or early effect. Materials and Methods: A systematic review of studies available in Pubmed, Scopus, and ISI Web of Science databases was performed. Results: Noise exposure was able to induce alterations in DNA methylation levels in workers and animal models, resulting in expression changes of genes related to hearing loss and also to extra-auditory effects. Differently expressed microRNAs were determined in NIHL workers compared to noise-exposed subjects with normal hearing, supporting their possible role as biomarkers of effect. Acoustic trauma affected histon acethylation and methylation levels in animals, suggesting their influence in the pathogenesis of acute noise-induced damage and their role as targets for potential therapeutic treatments. Conclusions: Although preliminary data suggest a relationship between noise and epigenetic effects, the limited number of studies, their different methodologies and the lack of adequate characterization of acoustic insults prevent definite conclusions. In this context, further research aimed to define the epigenetic impact of workplace noise exposure and the role of such alterations in predicting hearing loss may be important for the adoption of correct risk assessment and management strategies in occupational settings.


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