Objectives: To investigate novel variants in hearing loss genes and clinical factors affecting audiometric outcomes of cochlear implant (CI) patients.
Background: Approximately 50% of hearing loss has a genetic etiology, with certain genetic variants more prevalent in specific ethnic groups. Different variants and some clinical variables including inner ear malformations result in different prognoses or clinical outcomes after CI.
Methods: Medical and genetic testing records of pediatric CI patients were reviewed for clinical variables. Minor allele frequencies of variants were obtained from Genome Aggregation Database (gnomAD) and variants were classified for pathogenicity. Standard statistical testing was done using Fisher's exact, Wilcoxon, and Spearman correlation tests.
Results: Eighteen CI patients with genetic test results had pathogenic variants, including six patients with syndromic hearing loss and six patients with known GJB2 variants. Novel pathogenic variants were noted in CHD7, ADGRV1, and ARID1B, with variants in the latter two genes identified in Hispanic patients. Overall, carriage of genetic variants was associated with better pre-CI audiometric thresholds at 2000 Hz (p = 0.048). On the other hand, post-CI thresholds were significantly worse in patients with inner ear malformations, particularly in patients with atretic cochlear nerve canals.
Conclusion: Four novel pathogenic variants were identified, which contributes to knowledge of allelic spectrum for hearing loss especially in Hispanic patients. In this cohort, carriage of pathogenic variants particularly of GJB2 variants was associated with better pre-CI audiometric thresholds, while patients with inner ear malformations had worse post-CI audiometric thresholds.