Objective: Hearing loss caused by mutation of mitochondrial DNA typically develops in late childhood or early adulthood, but rarely in infancy. We report the investigation of a patient to determine the cause of his early onset hearing loss.
Materials and methods: The proband was a boy aged 1 year and 2 months at presentation. Newborn hearing screening test by automated auditory brainstem response generated "pass" results for both ears. His reaction to sound deteriorated by 9 months. Average pure tone threshold at 0.5, 1, and 2 kHz was 55 dB by conditioned orientation response audiometry. His father had congenital hearing loss, and his mother had progressive hearing loss since childhood. Invader assays and Sanger sequencing were performed to investigate genetic causes of the hearing loss in the proband, and heteroplasmy was assessed by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism, Sanger sequencing, and pyrosequencing. Additionally, mitochondrial function was evaluated by measurement of the oxygen consumption rate of patient skin fibroblasts.
Results: An m.7445A > G mitochondrial DNA mutation and a heterozygous c.235delC (p.L79Cfs*3) mutation of GJB2 were detected in the proband. His mother carried the m.7445A > G mitochondrial DNA mutation, and his father was a compound heterozygote for GJB2 mutations (c.[235delC]; [134G > A; 408C > A]). Tissue samples from both the proband and his mother exhibited a high degree of heteroplasmy. Fibroblasts from the proband exhibited markedly reduced oxygen consumption rates. These data indicate that the proband had impaired mitochondrial function, resulting in hearing loss.
Conclusion: This research demonstrates that hearing loss in a proband who presented in infancy and that of his mother resulted from a high level of heteroplasmy for the m.7445A > G mitochondrial DNA mutation, indicating that this alteration can cause hearing loss in infancy.
Keywords: Heteroplasmy; Infant; Mitochondrial DNA; Progressive hearing loss.
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