Cochlear alterations in deaf and unaffected subjects carrying the deafness-associated A1555G mutation in the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Jun 2;344(2):511-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2006.03.143. Epub 2006 Mar 30.


The A1555G mutation in the mitochondrial small ribosomal RNA gene (12S rRNA) has been associated with aminoglycoside-induced, nonsyndromic hearing loss. However, the clinical phenotype of A1555G carriers is extremely variable. In the present study, we have performed an audiological evaluation of a group of deaf patients and hearing carriers of mutation A1555G with the aim to assess the prevalence of the mutation and determine the associated cochlear alterations. Fifty-four patients affected of nonsyndromic hearing loss were screened for the presence of the A1555G mitochondrial mutation. Nine of the familial cases (21%) carried the A1555G mutation, whereas the mutation was not found in any of the sporadic cases. The positive cases and some of their family members underwent a clinical study consisting in a clinical evaluation and audiological testing. The phenotype of A1555G patients varied in age of onset and severity of hearing loss, ranging from profound deafness to completely normal hearing. The audiometric alterations showed bilateral hearing loss, being more severe at high frequencies. Otoacoustic emissions were absent in deaf A1555G carriers, and auditory brainstem response indicated a prolonged Wave I, suggesting a cochlear dysfunction without any effect of the auditory nerve. Moreover, all hearing carriers of A1555G also presented alterations in cochlear physiology. In conclusion, the A1555G mitochondrial mutation causes a cochlear form of deafness, characterized by a more severe loss of hearing at high frequencies. Although the expression of the mutation is variable, cochlear alterations are present in all carriers of mutation A1555G.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cochlea / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / congenital
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / epidemiology
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / genetics*
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Prevalence
  • RNA, Ribosomal / genetics*
  • Spain / epidemiology


  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, ribosomal, 12S