Objectives/hypothesis: The objective was to clarify the characteristics of deafness associated with the A1555G mutation within mitochondrial 12S ribosomal RNA gene in the absence of aminoglycoside exposure.
Study design: Clinical and genetic studies in family members with the A1555G mitochondrial mutation were performed.
Methods: The subjects were 123 maternally related members of a large Japanese family with the A1555G mutation. All subjects had no previous history of exposure to aminoglycosides. Hearing disability and handicap, tinnitus, and medical histories were analyzed by interviews in all of the subjects, genetic testing was performed in 41 subjects, and pure-tone audiometry was conducted in 26 subjects with hearing disability and handicap.
Results: The A1555G mutation was detected in a homoplasmic form (meaning that all the mitochondrial DNA carries the mutation) in all 41 subjects who were screened. The risk for developing postlingual hearing loss was likely to be much higher in the present subjects than in the general population. Both the severity and age at onset of the phenotype were similar in affected subjects within the same sibling group. Pure-tone averages were significantly worse in subjects who developed hearing loss before age 10 years than in those who developed hearing loss later.
Conclusion: The present study demonstrated that the prevalence of deafness in individuals with the A1555G mitochondrial mutation was likely to be high even in the absence of aminoglycoside exposure and clearly showed the association of severe to profound hearing loss with the onset of hearing loss before age 10 years.