Benefits of Exome Sequencing in Children with Suspected Isolated Hearing Loss

Genes (Basel). 2021 Aug 20;12(8):1277. doi: 10.3390/genes12081277.


Purpose: Hearing loss is characterized by an extensive genetic heterogeneity and remains a common disorder in children. Molecular diagnosis is of particular benefit in children, and permits the early identification of clinically-unrecognized hearing loss syndromes, which permits effective clinical management and follow-up, including genetic counselling.

Methods: We performed whole-exome sequencing with the analysis of a panel of 189 genes associated with hearing loss in a prospective cohort of 61 children and 9 adults presenting mainly with isolated hearing loss.

Results: The overall diagnostic rate using exome sequencing was 47.2% (52.5% in children; 22% in adults). In children with confirmed molecular results, 17/32 (53.2%) showed autosomal recessive inheritance patterns, 14/32 (43.75%) showed an autosomal dominant condition, and one case had X-linked hearing loss. In adults, the two patients showed an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern. Among the 32 children, 17 (53.1%) had nonsyndromic hearing loss and 15 (46.7%) had syndromic hearing loss. One adult was diagnosed with syndromic hearing loss and one with nonsyndromic hearing loss. The most common causative genes were STRC (5 cases), GJB2 (3 cases), COL11A1 (3 cases), and ACTG1 (3 cases).

Conclusions: Exome sequencing has a high diagnostic yield in children with hearing loss and can reveal a syndromic hearing loss form before other organs/systems become involved, allowing the surveillance of unrecognized present and/or future complications associated with these syndromes.

Keywords: children; deafness; genetics; isolated hearing loss; molecular diagnosis; whole-exome sequencing.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / genetics*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Collagen Type XI / genetics*
  • Connexin 26 / genetics*
  • Deafness / diagnosis
  • Deafness / genetics*
  • Deafness / pathology
  • Exome / genetics
  • Exome Sequencing / standards
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / genetics*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Pathology, Molecular
  • Pedigree


  • ACTG1 protein, human
  • Actins
  • COL11A1 protein, human
  • Collagen Type XI
  • GJB2 protein, human
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • STRC protein, human
  • Connexin 26

Supplementary concepts

  • Nonsyndromic Deafness