Introduction: DFNA9 is characterized by adult-onset progressive sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and vestibular impairment. More than 15 years ago, genotype-phenotype correlation studies estimated the initial age of hearing deterioration in the fourth to fifth decade (ranging from 32 to 43 years). However, these analyses were based on relatively limited numbers of mainly symptomatic carriers using markedly different methodologies. The starting point for the hearing deterioration is more correctly determined with larger numbers of carriers and with a more clearly defined starting point of the hearing deterioration. Aim: The aim of this study was to determine milestone ages (start and maximal hearing deterioration, potential eligibility for hearing aids and cochlear implants based on pure-tone average [PTA]) in a large series of p.Pro51Ser COCH variant carriers. The degree of individual interaural asymmetry and the degree of variability (interquartile range) with which the hearing deterioration progresses across ages were also studied, and age-related typical audiograms (ARTA) were constructed. Material and methods: One hundred eleven Belgian and Dutch p.P51S variant carriers were identified and recruited for audiological investigation. Their hearing thresholds were compared with p50th, p95th, and p97.5th percentile values of presbyacusis (ISO 7029 standards). The onset and degree of hearing deterioration were defined and assessed for each frequency and with three PTAs (PTA(0.5-4) [0.5, 1, 2, and 4 kHz]; PTA(4-8) [4 and 8 kHz]; and PTA(6-8) [6 and 8 kHz]). The milestones ages were derived from nonlinear regression model of hearing thresholds against age, for male and female carriers separately, because of different age-referenced limits. Interaural right-left asymmetry was assessed, and variability of hearing thresholds were calculated using interquartile range. ARTAs were built with both observed data and a prediction model. Results: Hearing dysfunction in p.P51S carriers begins at about 38 years of age (ranging from 28 to 43 years) on average in female and 46 years (ranging from 42 to 49 years) in male carriers (third decade: female, fifth decade: male carriers), depending on the hearing frequency and with differences in deterioration sequence between both genders. These differences, however, were mainly due to more stringent age-referenced limits for men. In contrast, predictions (ARTA) did not show any difference of phenotypic expression between genders. At about 48 to 50 years of age on average, the majority of DFNA9 patients may need conventional hearing aids (PTA >= 40 dB HL), whereas this is about 56 to 59 years for cochlear implants (PTA >= 70 dB HL). There is a high degree of individual interaural asymmetry and interindividual variability throughout all ages. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that the onset of sensorineural hearing deterioration starts in the third decade and probably even earlier. Regardless of differences in estimates, DFNA9 expresses similarly in male and female carriers, but male carriers are much more difficult to identify in early stages of the disease. Comprehensive assessment of the natural course of DFNA9 is of particular interest to predict the age of onset or critical period of most significant function deterioration in individual carriers of the pathogenic variant. This will help to design studies in the search for disease-modifying therapies.
- Cochlear hereditary hearing loss
- Age-related typical audiograms
- CANDIDATE GENE