Purpose: Genetic contributions to tinnitus have been difficult to determine due to the heterogeneity of the condition and its broad etiology. Here, we evaluated the genetic and nongenetic influences on self-reported tinnitus from the Swedish Twin Registry (STR).
Methods: Cross-sectional data from the STR was obtained. Casewise concordance rates (the risk of one twin being affected given that his/her twin partner has tinnitus) were compared for monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs (N = 10,464 concordant and discordant twin pairs) and heritability coefficients (the proportion of the total variance attributable to genetic factors) were calculated using biometrical model fitting procedures.
Results: Stratification of tinnitus cases into subtypes according to laterality (unilateral versus bilateral) revealed that heritability of bilateral tinnitus was 0.56; however, it was 0.27 for unilateral tinnitus. Heritability was greater in men (0.68) than in women (0.41). However, when female pairs younger than 40 years of age were selected, heritability of 0.62 was achieved with negligible effects of shared environment.
Conclusion: Unlike unilateral tinnitus, bilateral tinnitus is influenced by genetic factors and might constitute a genetic subtype. Overall, our study provides the initial evidence for a tinnitus phenotype with a genetic influence.Genet Med advance online publication 23 March 2017.