Abnormal cochlear potentials from deaf patients with mutations in the otoferlin gene

J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2009 Dec;10(4):545-56. doi: 10.1007/s10162-009-0181-z. Epub 2009 Jul 28.


Otoferlin is involved in neurotransmitter release at the synapse between inner hair cells (IHCs) and auditory nerve fibres, and mutations in the OTOF gene result in severe to profound hearing loss. Abnormal sound-evoked cochlear potentials were recorded with transtympanic electrocochleography from four children with otoferlin (OTOF) mutations to evaluate physiological effects in humans of abnormal neurotransmitter release from IHCs. The subjects were profoundly deaf with absent auditory brainstem responses and preserved otoacoustic emissions consistent with auditory neuropathy. Two children were compound heterozygotes for mutations c.2732_2735dupAGCT and p.Ala964Glu; one subject was homozygous for mutation p.Phe1795Cys, and one was compound heterozygote for two novel mutations c.1609delG in exon 16 and c.1966delC in exon 18. Cochlear potentials evoked by clicks from 60 to 120 dB peak equivalent sound pressure level were compared to recordings obtained from 16 normally hearing children. Cochlear microphonic (CM) was recorded with normal amplitudes from all but one ear. After cancelling CM, cochlear potentials were of negative polarity with reduced amplitude and prolonged duration compared to controls. These cochlear potentials were recorded as low as 50-90 dB below behavioural thresholds in contrast to the close correlation in controls between cochlear potentials and behavioural threshold. Summating potential was identified in five out of eight ears with normal latency whilst auditory nerve compound action potentials were either absent or of low amplitude. Stimulation at high rates reduced amplitude and duration of the prolonged potentials, consistent with neural generation. This study suggests that mechano-electrical transduction and cochlear amplification are normal in patients with OTOF mutations. The low-amplitude prolonged negative potentials are consistent with decreased neurotransmitter release resulting in abnormal dendritic activation and impairment of auditory nerve firing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Cochlear Microphonic Potentials*
  • Cochlear Nerve / metabolism
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiopathology
  • Deafness / genetics*
  • Deafness / metabolism
  • Deafness / physiopathology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem
  • Female
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Inner / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Mutation*


  • Membrane Proteins
  • OTOF protein, human