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Associations Between Telomere Length and Hearing Status in Mid-Childhood and Midlife

Population-Based Cross-Sectional study

Wang, Jing1,2; Nguyen, Minh Thien1,2; Sung, Valerie1,2,3; Grobler, Anneke1,2; Burgner, David1,2,3,4; Saffery, Richard1,2; Wake, Melissa1,2,5

doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000705
Brief Reports

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to determine if telomere length (a biomarker of aging) is associated with hearing acuity in mid-childhood and midlife.

Design: The study was based on the population-based cross-sectional study within the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children with telomere length and audiometry data. We calculated high Fletcher Index (hFI, mean threshold of 1, 2, and 4 kHz), defining hearing loss as threshold >15 dB HL (better ear). Linear and logistic regression analyses quantified associations of telomere length with continuous hearing threshold and binary hearing loss outcomes, respectively.

Results: One thousand one hundred ninety-five children (mean age 11.4 years, SD 0.5) and 1334 parents (mean age 43.9 years, SD 5.1) were included in analyses. Mean (SD) telomere length (T/S ratio) was 1.09 (0.55) for children and 0.81 (0.38) for adults; hFI (dB HL) was 8.0 (5.6) for children and 13.1 (7.0) for adults, with 8.4% and 25.9%, respectively, showing hearing loss.Telomere length was not associated with hearing threshold or hearing loss in children (hFI: OR, 0.99; 95% confidence interval, 0.55 to 1.78) or adults (hFI: OR, 1.35; 95% confidence interval, 0.81 to 2.25).

Conclusions: Telomere length was not associated with hearing acuity in children or their midlife parents.

1Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

2Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

3Department of General Medicine, Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

4Department of Paediatrics, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia

5Department of Paediatrics, The Liggins Institute, The University of Auckland, Grafton, Auckland, New Zealand.

Received September 9, 2018; accepted December 20, 2018.

Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) tools were used in this study. More information about this software can be found at: The authors thank the LSAC and CheckPoint study participants, staff and students for their contributions.

M.W., D.B., and R.S. conceptualized and developed the CheckPoint study. M.W. was the primary student supervisor, along with V.S., and oversaw all the aspects of the study and the manuscript preparation. M.T.N. helped in sample collection, isolated DNA, and quantified telomere length. R.S. supervised laboratory work and protocol optimization. J.W. performed data analysis and wrote the main paper. A.G. provided statistical support. All authors critically reviewed the manuscripts and had final approval of the submitted and published version of this paper.

The Royal Children’s Hospital Human Research Ethics Committee (33225D) and The Australian Institute of Family Studies Ethics Committee (14–26) approved the study. Parents provided written consent and children verbal assent.

This work was supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grants 1041352 and 1109355, The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation (2014–241), the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, The University of Melbourne, the National Heart Foundation of Australia (100660), Financial Markets Foundation for Children (2014–055, 2016–310), and the Victorian Deaf Education Institute. The funding bodies did not play any role in the study. J.W. was supported by the University of Melbourne Postgraduate Scholarship and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute PhD Top Up Scholarship. The following authors were supported by the NHMRC: M.T.N. (Postgraduate Scholarship 1115167), V.S. (Early Career Fellowship 1125687), D.B. (Senior Research Fellowship 1064629), R.S. (Senior Research Fellowship 1045161), and M.W. (Senior Research Fellowship 1046518) in this work. V.S. was additionally supported by a Cottrell Research Fellowship from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, and M.W. by Cure Kids New Zealand. The MCRI administered the research grants for the study and provided infrastructural support (IT and biospecimen management) to its staff and the study but played no role in the conduct or analysis of the trial. The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest, including no specific financial interests relevant to the subject of this manuscript.

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Address for correspondence: Melissa Wake, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville VIC 3052, Australia. Email:

Online date: March 11, 2019

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