Concept: Hearing impairment
The 2016 National Academies of Sciences report “Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability” included a call to action for government agencies to strengthen efforts to collect, analyze, and disseminate population-based data on hearing loss in adults.
To test the influence of multiple factors on cochlear implant (CI) speech performance in quiet and in noise for postlinguistically deaf adults, and to design a model of predicted auditory performance with a CI as a function of the significant factors.
Domestic dogs can suffer from hearing losses that can have profound impacts on working ability and quality of life. We have identified a type of adult-onset hearing loss in Border Collies that appears to have a genetic cause, with an earlier age of onset (3-5 years) than typically expected for aging dogs (8-10 years). Studying this complex trait within pure breeds of dog may greatly increase our ability to identify genomic regions associated with risk of hearing impairment in dogs and in humans. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to detect loci underlying adult-onset deafness in a sample of 20 affected and 28 control Border Collies. We identified a region on canine chromosome 6 that demonstrates extended support for association surrounding SNP Chr6.25819273 (p-value = 1.09×10(-13)). To further localize disease-associated variants, targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) of one affected and two unaffected dogs was performed. Through additional validation based on targeted genotyping of additional cases (n = 23 total) and controls (n = 101 total) and an independent replication cohort of 16 cases and 265 controls, we identified variants in USP31 that were strongly associated with adult-onset deafness in Border Collies, suggesting the involvement of the NF-κB pathway. We found additional support for involvement of RBBP6, which is critical for cochlear development. These findings highlight the utility of GWAS-guided fine-mapping of genetic loci using targeted NGS to study hereditary disorders of the domestic dog that may be analogous to human disorders.
Auditory training involves active listening to auditory stimuli and aims to improve performance in auditory tasks. As such, auditory training is a potential intervention for the management of people with hearing loss.
To evaluate the onset of vertigo, hearing loss and tinnitus in Ménière’s disease and the associated endolymphatic hydrops (EH) of the inner ear.
Hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the United States, and is more prevalent than diabetes or cancer (1). Occupational hearing loss, primarily caused by high noise exposure, is the most common U.S. work-related illness (2). Approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous occupational noise (3). CDC compared the prevalence of hearing impairment within nine U.S. industry sectors using 1,413,789 noise-exposed worker audiograms from CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Occupational Hearing Loss Surveillance Project (4). CDC estimated the prevalence at six hearing impairment levels, measured in the better ear, and the impact on quality of life expressed as annual disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), as defined by the 2013 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study (5). The mining sector had the highest prevalence of workers with any hearing impairment, and with moderate or worse impairment, followed by the construction and manufacturing sectors. Hearing loss prevention, and early detection and intervention to avoid additional hearing loss, are critical to preserve worker quality of life.
To evaluate the factors that limit post-cochlear implantation (CI) speech perception in prelingually deaf children.
A growing interest in cognitive effects associated with speech and hearing processes is spreading throughout the scientific community essentially guided by evidence that central and peripheral hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline. For the present research, 125 participants older than 65 years of age (105 with hearing impairment and 20 with normal hearing) were enrolled, divided into 6 groups according to their degree of hearing loss and assessed to determine the effects of the treatment applied. Patients in our research program routinely undergo an extensive audiological and cognitive evaluation protocol providing results from the Digit Span test, Stroop color-word test, Montreal Cognitive Assessment and Geriatric Depression Scale, before and after rehabilitation. Data analysis was performed for a cross-sectional and longitudinal study of the outcomes for the different treatment groups. Each group demonstrated improvement after auditory rehabilitation or training on short- and long-term memory tasks, level of depression and cognitive status scores. Auditory rehabilitation by cochlear implants or hearing aids is effective also among older adults (median age of 74 years) with different degrees of hearing loss, and enables positive improvements in terms of social isolation, depression and cognitive performance.
Death of cochlear hair cells, which do not regenerate, is a cause of hearing loss in a high percentage of the population. Currently, no approach exists to obtain large numbers of cochlear hair cells. Here, using a small-molecule approach, we show significant expansion (>2,000-fold) of cochlear supporting cells expressing and maintaining Lgr5, an epithelial stem cell marker, in response to stimulation of Wnt signaling by a GSK3β inhibitor and transcriptional activation by a histone deacetylase inhibitor. The Lgr5-expressing cells differentiate into hair cells in high yield. From a single mouse cochlea, we obtained over 11,500 hair cells, compared to less than 200 in the absence of induction. The newly generated hair cells have bundles and molecular machinery for transduction, synapse formation, and specialized hair cell activity. Targeting supporting cells capable of proliferation and cochlear hair cell replacement could lead to the discovery of hearing loss treatments.
Mutation of the Gap Junction Beta 2 gene (GJB2) encoding connexin 26 (CX26) is the most frequent cause of hereditary deafness worldwide and accounts for up to 50% of non-syndromic sensorineural hearing loss cases in some populations. Therefore, cochlear CX26-gap junction plaque (GJP)-forming cells such as cochlear supporting cells are thought to be the most important therapeutic target for the treatment of hereditary deafness. The differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into cochlear CX26-GJP-forming cells has not been reported. Here, we detail the development of a novel strategy to differentiate induced pluripotent stem cells into functional CX26-GJP-forming cells that exhibit spontaneous ATP- and hemichannel-mediated Ca(2+) transients typical of the developing cochlea. Furthermore, these cells from CX26-deficient mice recapitulated the drastic disruption of GJPs, the primary pathology of GJB2-related hearing loss. These in vitro models should be useful for establishing inner-ear cell therapies and drug screening that target GJB2-related hearing loss.