Blond female physician examining an older man's ears to assess hearing loss
Credit: AlexRaths/Getty

Ten new genetic variants linked with hearing loss and the affected part of the ear were uncovered by researchers at King’s College London, Karolinska Institute, and Erasmus University.

As reported in the American Journal of Human Genetics, the team studied genetic analyses previously carried out in centers around the world using samples from 723,266 people from 17 studies who had clinically diagnosed or self-reported hearing impairment. The researchers identified 48 genes linked to hearing loss, including 10 variants newly linked to hearing.

“Hearing loss is one of the top contributors to years lived with disability and is a risk factor for dementia,” wrote the researchers.

“Molecular evidence on the cellular origins of hearing loss in humans is growing. Here, we performed a genome-wide association meta-analysis of clinically diagnosed and self-reported hearing impairment on 723,266 individuals and identified 48 significant loci, 10 of which are novel.”

Further observation of mouse genetics demonstrates that age-related hearing loss is due to changes in the stria vascularis which is necessary for hearing. The results provide targets for the basis of future research which could improve therapies against hearing loss.

“Our findings indicate the importance of the stria vascularis in the mechanism of hearing impairment, providing future paths for developing targets for therapeutic intervention in hearing loss,” concluded the researchers.

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