Genotype-Phenotype Correlation Study in a Large Series of Patients Carrying the p.Pro51Ser (p.P51S) Variant in COCH (DFNA9) Part II: A Prospective Cross-Sectional Study of the Vestibular Phenotype in 111 Carriers

Sebastien P. F. JanssensdeVarebeke*, Julie Moyaert, Erik Fransen, Britt Bulen, Celine Neesen, Katrien Devroye, Raymond van de Berg, Ronald J. E. Pennings, Vedat Topsakal, Olivier Vanderveken, Guy Van Camp, Vincent Van Rompaey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: DFNA9 is characterized by adult-onset hearing loss and evolution toward bilateral vestibulopathy (BVP). The genotype-phenotype correlation studies were conducted 15 years ago. However, their conclusions were mainly based on symptomatic carriers and the vestibular data exclusively derived from the horizontal (lateral) semicircular canal (SCC). The last decade was marked by the emergence of new clinical diagnostic tools, such as the video head impulse test (vHIT) and vestibular-evoked myogenic evoked potentials (VEMPs), expanding our evaluation to all six SCCs and the otolith organs (saccule and utricule). Aim: The aim of this study was to comprehensively evaluate vestibular function in the largest series presymptomatic as well as symptomatic p.P51S variant carriers, to determine which labyrinthine part shows the first signs of deterioration and which SCC function declines at first and to determine the age at which p.P51S variant carriers develop caloric areflexia on VNG and vHIT vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR)-gain dysfunction as defined by the Barany Society criteria for BVP. Material and methods: One hundred eleven p.P51S variant carriers were included. The following vestibular function tests were applied in two different centers: ENG/VNG, vHIT, and VEMPs. The following parameters were analyzed: age (years), hearing loss (pure-tone average of 0.5-4 kHz [PTA(0.5-4), dB HL]), sum of maximal peak slow-phase eye velocity obtained with bi-thermal (30 degrees C and 44 degrees C, water irrigation; 25 degrees C and 44 degrees C, air irrigation) caloric test (degrees/s), vHIT VOR-gain on LSCC, superior SCC and posterior SCC, C-VEMP both numerical (threshold, dB nHL) and categorical (present or absent), and O-VEMP as categorical (present or absent). The age of onset of vestibular dysfunction was determined both with categorical (onset in decades using Box & Whisker plots) and numeric approach (onset in years using regression analysis). The same method was applied for determining the age at which vestibular function declined beyond the limits of BVP, as defined by the Barany Society. Results: With the categorical approach, otolith function was declining first (3rd decade), followed by caloric response (5th decade) and vHIT VOR-gains (5th-6th decade). Estimated age of onset showed that the deterioration began with C-VEMP activity (31 years), followed by caloric responses (water irrigation) (35 years) and ended with vHIT VOR-gains (48-57 years). Hearing deterioration started earlier than vestibular deterioration in female carriers, which is different from earlier reports. BVP was predicted at about 53 years of age on average with VNG caloric gain (water irrigation) and between 47 and 57 years of age for the three SCCs. Loss of C-VEMP response was estimated at about 46 years of age. Conclusion: Former hypothesis of vestibular decline preceding hearing deterioration by 9 years was confirmed by the numeric approach, but this was less obvious with the categorical approach. Wide confidence intervals of the regression models may explain deviation of the fits from true relationship. There is a typical vestibular deterioration hierarchy in p.P51S variant carriers. To further refine the present findings, a prospective longitudinal study of the auditory and vestibular phenotype may help to get even better insights in this matter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1525-1543
Number of pages19
JournalEar and Hearing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Bilateral vestibulopathy
  • DFNA9
  • Human COCH protein
  • Progressive vestibulocochlear dysfunction
  • Sensorineural hearing loss
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex
  • GENE


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