Prevalence and mechanisms of hearing loss in patients with resistance to thyroid hormone

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996 Aug;81(8):2768-72. doi: 10.1210/jcem.81.8.8768826.


Hearing impairment was anecdotally reported in resistance to thyroid hormone (RTH), a condition caused by mutations in the beta-thyroid hormone receptor (beta TR) gene. Because of its ontogenic distribution in the cochlea, the beta TR may have a pivotal role in the development of auditory function. To assess the prevalence and mechanisms of hearing impairment in RTH, 82 RTH-positive (RTH+) patients and 55 unaffected relatives (RTH-) underwent systematic audiological examination, including puretone and speech reception thresholds, and tests studying middle ear (tympanometry and acoustic reflexes), cochlear (otoacoustic emissions), and retrocochlear integrity (brain stem auditory evoked potentials). Significant hearing loss was present in 21% of RTH+ patients vs. none in RTH- patients. More RTH+ patients had abnormal tympanometry (34% vs. 12%) and abnormal acoustic reflexes (39% vs. 19%). Isolated conductive deficit was found in 7 of 17 RTH+ patients with hearing loss, isolated sensorineural deficit in 7 cases, and mixed deficit in 3 cases. Cochlear dysfunction was found in 50% of all RTH+ patients, with or without hearing loss. Retrocochlear function was normal. No morphological cochlear abnormalities were detected on computed tomography of the temporal bone. In conclusion, hearing loss is a significant problem in RTH, with an equal frequency of conductive (probably related to the frequent ear infections) and sensorineural deficits. Abnormal otoacoustic emissions suggest that the mutant beta TR has a specific negative impact on cochlear function.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Audiometry
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Resistance
  • Ear Diseases / complications
  • Female
  • Hearing Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Hearing Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Hearing Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Infections / complications
  • Male
  • Otoacoustic Emissions, Spontaneous
  • Prevalence
  • Temporal Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Thyroid Hormones / physiology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Thyroid Hormones