APR 20, 2015 4:38 PM PDT

Noise-related Hearing Loss Might be in Your Genes

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
A genome-wide association study conducted by an international team led by the University of Southern California identified Nox3 as a critical gene for susceptibility to noise-induced hearing loss in mice. The gene, which is almost exclusively expressed in the inner ear, was identified in a study published in the April 16 edition of PLOS Genetics.
Immunostained mouse auditory nerve synapses after noise exposure. A team led by Keck Medicine of USC neuroscientists first to publish genome-wide association study for noise-induced hearing loss in mice.
Researchers led by Rick A. Friedman, M.D. Ph.D., professor of otolaryngology and neurosurgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, used 64 of the 100 strains of mice in the Hybrid Mouse Diversity panel, enabling the team to increase the statistical power of its analysis.

Previous studies that looked at gene association for noise-induced hearing loss in people were small in size and their results were not replicated.

"Understanding the biological processes that affect susceptibility to hearing loss due to loud noise exposure is an important factor in reducing the risk," Friedman said in a statement. "We have made great advances in hearing restoration, but nothing can compare to protecting the hearing you have and preventing hearing loss in the first place."

While more research must be done before any clinical recommendations can be made, study authors said those who might be more genetically vulnerable to this type of hearing loss may want to take extra precautions before being exposed to harmful noises.

Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the US, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Approximately 26 million, or 17 percent of adults aged 20 to 69 years, have suffered permanent hearing damage from excessive exposure to noise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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