Non-Syndromic Hearing Loss in a Romanian Population: Carrier Status and Frequent Variants in the GJB2 Gene

Genes (Basel). 2022 Dec 26;14(1):69. doi: 10.3390/genes14010069.


The genetic causes of autosomal recessive nonsyndromic hearing loss (ARNSHL) are heterogeneous and highly ethnic-specific. We describe GJB2 (connexin 26) variants and carrier frequencies as part of our study and summarize previously reported ones for the Romanian population. In total, 284 unrelated children with bilateral congenital NSHL were enrolled between 2009 and 2018 in northwestern Romania. A tiered diagnostic approach was used: all subjects were tested for c.35delG, c.71G>A and deletions in GJB6 (connexin 30) using PCR-based methods. Furthermore, 124 cases undiagnosed at this stage were analyzed by multiplex-ligation-dependent probe amplifications (MLPA), probe mix P163, and sequencing of GJB2 exon 2. Targeted allele-specific PCR/restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) established definite ethio-pathogenical diagnosis for 72/284 (25.35%) of the cohort. Out of the 124 further analyzed, in 12 cases (9.67%), we found compound heterozygous point mutations in GJB2. We identified one case of deletion of exon 1 of the WFS1 (wolframin) gene. Carrier status evaluation used Illumina Infinium Global Screening Array (GSA) genotyping: the HINT cohort-416 individuals in northwest Romania, and the FUSE cohort-472 individuals in southwest Romania. GSA variants yielded a cumulated risk allele presence of 0.0284. A tiered diagnostic approach may be efficient in diagnosing ARNSHL. The summarized contributions to Romanian descriptive epidemiology of ARNSHL shows that pathogenic variants in the GJB2 gene are frequent among NSHL cases and have high carrier rates, especially for c.35delG and c.71G>A. These findings may serve in health strategy development.

Keywords: GJB2 (gap-junction protein β 2); autosomal recessive non-syndromic hearing loss; connexin 26; deafness.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Connexin 26 / genetics
  • Connexins* / genetics
  • Deafness* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Romania / epidemiology


  • Connexin 26
  • Connexins
  • GJB2 protein, human

Supplementary concepts

  • Nonsyndromic Deafness