Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ISSNHL) affects 66,000 patients per year in the United States. Genetic mutations have been associated with progressive hearing loss; however, genetic mutations associated with ISSNHL have not been identified.
A prospective cohort study of adults older than 18 years presenting with ISSNHL at a tertiary academic medical center. Whole exome sequencing (WES) was conducted using Genome Analysis Toolkit best practices. An automated diagnostic screen employing a variety of models for pathogenicity was conducted across all genes with no specific targets. Candidate pathogenic variants were reviewed by a team of geneticists and clinicians. Variants were crossed-referenced with 92 known hearing loss associated genes.
Twenty-nine patients with SSNHL were screened using WES. The average age of patients was 53 ± 17.1 years, and most patients were White (62%) and men (55%). The mean pure tone average was 64.8 ± 31.3 dB for the affected ear. Using a 0.1% allele frequency screen, 12 (41%) cases had a mutation in any of the nine selected myosin genes. When we restrict to singletons (allele frequency = 0%), 21% (n = 6) of cases have qualifying variants, whereas only 3.8% (n = 481) of 12,577 healthy controls carry qualifying variants (p < 0.01). Most mutations (80%) were missense mutations. Of the novel mutations, one was a frameshift mutation, and two were a stop-gained function. Three were missense mutations.
Myosin mutations may be associated with ISSNHL. However, larger population screening is needed to confirm the association of myosin mutation with ISSNHL and steroid responsiveness.