Congenital sensorineural deafness is an inherited condition found in many dog breeds, including Australian Stumpy-tail Cattle Dogs (ASCD). This deafness is evident in young pups and may affect one ear (unilateral) or both ears (bilateral). The genetic locus/loci involved is unknown for all dog breeds. The aims of this study were to determine incidence, inheritance mechanism, and possible association of congenital sensorineural deafness with coat colour in ASCD and to identify the genetic locus underpinning this disease.
A total of 315 ASCD were tested for sensorineural deafness using the brain stem auditory evoked response (BAER) test. Disease penetrance was estimated directly, using the ratio of unilaterally to bilaterally deaf dogs, and segregation analysis was performed using Mendel. A complete genome screen was undertaken using 325 microsatellites spread throughout the genome, on a pedigree of 50 BAER tested ASCD in which deafness was segregating. Fifty-six dogs (17.8%) were deaf, with 17 bilaterally and 39 unilaterally deaf. Unilaterally deaf dogs showed no significant left/right bias (p = 0.19) and no significant difference was observed in frequencies between the sexes (p = 0.18). Penetrance of deafness was estimated as 0.72. Testing the association of red/blue coat colour and deafness without accounting for pedigree structure showed that red dogs were 1.8 times more likely to be deaf (p = 0.045). The within family association between red/blue coat colour and deafness was strongly significant (p = 0.00036), with red coat colour segregating more frequently with deafness (COR = 0.48). The relationship between deafness and coat speckling approached significance (p = 0.07), with the lack of statistical significance possibly due to only four families co-segregating for both deafness and speckling. The deafness phenotype was mapped to CFA10 (maximum linkage peak on CFA10 −log10 p-value = 3.64), as was both coat colour and speckling. Fine mapping was then performed on 45 of these 50 dogs and a further 48 dogs (n = 93). Sequencing candidate gene Sox10 in 6 hearing ASCD, 2 unilaterally deaf ASCD and 2 bilaterally deaf ASCD did not reveal any disease-associated mutations.
Deafness in ASCD is an incompletely penetrant autosomal recessive inherited disease that maps to CFA10.
The association between patterns of pigmentation and deafness in the dog has a long-documented history, with reports dating back over one hundred years. Long suspected of having a genetic basis, the search for loci with a pronounced influence in the expression of hearing loss in the dog has yet to be successful. No studies in the dog to date have found a possible influence of a specific colour locus associated with deafness. The present study is intended to evaluate the heritability of deafness in the Jack Russell Terrier (JRT), characterize the mode of inheritance, and evaluate the existence of a sex, coat colour, or coat texture influence on the expression of sensorineural deafness.
The estimation of heritability of deafness in the JRT was 0.22 when deafness was considered a binary (normal/deaf) trait and 0.31 when deafness was considered a three-category (normal/unilateral/bilateral deafness). The influence of coat colour in the incidence of JRT deafness was statistically significant, indicating that dogs with more white are more likely to be deaf. The influence of sex or coat texture was not statistically significant in the incidence of JRT deafness. Complex segregation analysis revealed a model of a single locus with a large effect on the binary measure of hearing loss is not supported.
This is the first attempt, to our knowledge, to characterize a genetic component responsible for deafness in the JRT. The heritability of deafness in the JRT was found to be 0.22 and 0.31 considering deafness to be a two-category or three-category trait, respectively. There appears to be an influence of coat colour on the expression of deafness. In an attempt to characterize the mode of inheritance of deafness in the JRT, a model of a single locus with a large effect on hearing loss is not supported with this data. Further study is needed to determine if a single locus may be influencing deafness in the JRT. While the absence of a clear mode of inheritance complicates genetic dissection of deafness in the JRT, the assembling of this pedigree provides a tool for eventually defining the genetic bases of this disorder.
The effects of deafness on brain structure and function have been studied using animal models of congenital deafness that include surgical ablation of the organ of Corti, acoustic trauma, ototoxic drugs, and hereditary deafness. This report describes the morphologic plasticity of auditory nerve synapses in response to ototoxic deafening and chronic electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve. Normal kittens were deafened by neonatal administration of neomycin that eliminated auditory receptor cells. Some of these cats were raised deaf, whereas others were chronically implanted with cochlear electrodes at two months of age and electrically stimulated for up to 12 months. The large endings of the auditory nerve, endbulbs of Held, were studied because they hold a key position in the timing pathway for sound localization, are readily identifiable, and exhibit deafness-associated abnormalities. Compared to normal hearing cats, synapses of ototoxically deafened cats displayed expanded postsynaptic densities, a decrease in synaptic vesicle (SV) density, and a reduction in the somatic size of spherical bushy cells (SBCs). When compared to normal hearing cats, endbulbs of ototoxically deafened cats that received cochlear stimulation expressed postsynaptic densities (PSDs) that were statistically identical in size, showed a 32.8% reduction in SV density, and whose target SBCs had a 25.5% reduction in soma area. These results demonstrate that electrical stimulation via a cochlear implant in chemically-deafened cats preserves PSD size but not other aspects of synapse morphology. The results further suggest that the effects of ototoxic deafness are not identical to those of hereditary deafness.
cochlear implant; deafness; electrical stimulation; endbulb of Held; ototoxicity
The recessive mouse mutant headbobber (hb) displays the characteristic behavioural traits associated with vestibular defects including headbobbing, circling and deafness. This mutation was caused by the insertion of a transgene into distal chromosome 7 affecting expression of native genes. We show that the inner ear of hb/hb mutants lacks semicircular canals and cristae, and the saccule and utricle are fused together in a single utriculosaccular sac. Moreover, we detect severe abnormalities of the cochlear sensory hair cells, the stria vascularis looks severely disorganised, Reissner's membrane is collapsed and no endocochlear potential is detected. Myo7a and Kcnj10 expression analysis show a lack of the melanocyte-like intermediate cells in hb/hb stria vascularis, which can explain the absence of endocochlear potential. We use Trp2 as a marker of melanoblasts migrating from the neural crest at E12.5 and show that they do not interdigitate into the developing strial epithelium, associated with abnormal persistence of the basal lamina in the hb/hb cochlea. We perform array CGH, deep sequencing as well as an extensive expression analysis of candidate genes in the headbobber region of hb/hb and littermate controls, and conclude that the headbobber phenotype is caused by: 1) effect of a 648 kb deletion on distal Chr7, resulting in the loss of three protein coding genes (Gpr26, Cpmx2 and Chst15) with expression in the inner ear but unknown function; and 2) indirect, long range effect of the deletion on the expression of neighboring genes on Chr7, associated with downregulation of Hmx3, Hmx2 and Nkx1.2 homeobox transcription factors. Interestingly, deletions of the orthologous region in humans, affecting the same genes, have been reported in nineteen patients with common features including sensorineural hearing loss and vestibular problems. Therefore, we propose that headbobber is a useful model to gain insight into the mechanisms underlying deafness in human 10qter deletion syndrome.
In the cochlea, the mammalian auditory organ, fibrocytes of the mesenchymal nonsensory regions play important roles in cochlear physiology, including the maintenance of ionic and hydric components in the endolymph. Occurrence of human deafness in fibrocyte alterations underlines their critical roles in auditory function. We recently described a novel gene, Otos, which encodes otospiralin, a small protein of unknown function that is produced by the fibrocytes of the cochlea and vestibule. We now have generated mice with deletion of Otos and found that they show moderate deafness, with no frequency predominance. Histopathology revealed a degeneration of type II and IV fibrocytes, while hair cells and stria vascularis appeared normal. Together, these findings suggest that impairment of fibrocytes caused by the loss in otospiralin leads to abnormal cochlear physiology and auditory function. This moderate dysfunction may predispose to age-related hearing loss.
Current therapy for patients with hereditary absence of cochlear hair cells, who have severe or profound deafness, is restricted to cochlear implantation, a procedure that requires survival of the auditory nerve. Mouse mutations that serve as models for genetic deafness can be utilized for developing and enhancing therapies for hereditary deafness. A mouse with Pou4f3 loss of function has no hair cells and a subsequent, progressive degeneration of auditory neurons. Here we tested the influence of neurotrophin gene therapy on auditory nerve survival and peripheral sprouting in Pou4f3 mouse ears. BDNF gene transfer enhanced preservation of auditory neurons compared to control ears, in which nearly all neurons degenerated. Surviving neurons in treated ears exhibited pronounced sprouting of nerve fibers into the auditory epithelium, despite the absence of hair cells. This enhanced nerve survival and regenerative sprouting may improve the outcome of cochlear implant therapy in patients with hereditary deafness.
It has long been observed that loss of auditory receptor cells is associated with the progressive degeneration of spiral ganglion cells. Chronic electrical stimulation via cochlear implantation has been used in an attempt to slow the rate of degeneration in cats neonatally deafened by ototoxic agents but with mixed results. The present study examined this issue using white cats with a history of hereditary deafness as an alternative animal model. Nineteen cats provided new data for this study: four normal-hearing cats, seven congenitally deaf white cats, and eight congenitally deaf white cats with unilateral cochlear implants. Data from additional cats were collected from the literature. Electrical stimulation began at 3 to 4 or 6 to 7 months after birth, and cats received stimulation for approximately 7 h a day, 5 days a week for 12 weeks. Quantitative analysis of spiral ganglion cell counts, cell density, and cell body size showed no marked improvement between cochlear-implanted and congenitally deaf subjects. Average ganglion cell size from cochlear-implanted and congenitally deaf cats was statistically similar and smaller than that of normal-hearing cats. Cell density from cats with cochlear implants tended to decrease within the upper basal and middle cochlear turns in comparison to congenitally deaf cats but remained at congenitally deaf levels within the lower basal and apical cochlear turns. These results provide no evidence that chronic electrical stimulation enhances spiral ganglion cell survival, cell density, or cell size compared to that of unstimulated congenitally deaf cats. Regardless of ganglion neuron status, there is unambiguous restoration of auditory nerve synapses in the cochlear nucleus of these cats implanted at the earlier age.
auditory nerve; cochlea; cochlear nucleus; cochleosaccular degeneration; congenital deafness
A 43-year-old man developed decreased vision in the right eye that had persisted for seven years. Under slit lamp examination, corneal clouding was noted with normal endothelium and ocular structure. From the clinical evidence, we suspected that the patient had congenital hereditary stromal dystrophy (CHSD). He and his family underwent a genetic analysis. Penetrating keratoplasty was conducted, and the corneal button was investigated for histopathologic confirmation via both light and electron microscopy. The histopathologic results revealed mildly loosened stromal structures, which exhibited an almost normal arrangement and differed slightly from the previous findings of CHSD cases. With regard to the genetic aspects, the patient and his mother harbored a novel point mutation of the decorin gene. This genetic mutation is also distinct from previously described deletion mutations of the decorin gene. This case involved delayed penetration of mild clinical symptoms with the histological feature of a loosened fiber arrangement in the corneal stroma. We concluded that this condition was a mild form of CHSD. However, from another perspective, this case could be considered as "decorin gene-associated corneal dystrophy," which is distinct from CHSD. Further evaluation will be required for appropriate clinical, histopathologic and genetic approaches for such cases.
Decorin; Hereditary corneal dystrophy; Point mutation
Usher syndrome is the leading cause of combined deaf-blindness, but the molecular mechanisms underlying the auditory and visual impairment are poorly understood. Usher I is characterized by profound congenital hearing loss, vestibular dysfunction and progressive retinitis pigmentosa beginning in early adolescence. Using the c.216G>A cryptic splice site mutation in exon 3 of the USH1C gene found in Acadian Usher I patients in Louisiana, we constructed the first mouse model that develops both deafness and retinal degeneration. The same truncated mRNA transcript found in Usher 1C patients is found in the cochleae and retinas of these knock-in mice. Absent auditory-evoked brainstem responses indicated that the mutant mice are deaf at one month of age. Cochlear histology showed disorganized hair cell rows, abnormal bundles, and loss of both inner and outer hair cells in the middle turns and at the base. Retinal dysfunction as evident by an abnormal electroretinogram was seen as early as 1 month of age, with progressive loss of rod photoreceptors between 6 and 12 months of age. This knock-in mouse reproduces the dual sensory loss of human Usher I, providing a novel resource to study the disease mechanism and the development of therapies.
Usher syndrome; deafness; retinal degeneration; mouse model
Cochlear implants (CIs) process sounds electronically and then transmit electric stimulation to the cochlea of individuals with sensorineural deafness, restoring some sensation of auditory perception. Many congenitally deaf CI recipients achieve a high degree of accuracy in speech perception and develop near-normal language skills. Post-lingually deafened implant recipients often regain the ability to understand and use spoken language with or without the aid of visual input (i.e. lip reading). However, there is wide variation in individual outcomes following cochlear implantation, and some CI recipients never develop useable speech and oral language skills. The causes of this enormous variation in outcomes are only partly understood at the present time. The variables most strongly associated with language outcomes are age at implantation and mode of communication in rehabilitation. Thus, some of the more important factors determining success of cochlear implantation are broadly related to neural plasticity that appears to be transiently present in deaf individuals. In this article we review the expected outcomes of cochlear implantation, potential predictors of those outcomes, the basic science regarding critical and sensitive periods, and several new research directions in the field of cochlear implantation.
Mohr-Tranebjærg syndrome (MTS) is an X-linked, recessive, syndromic, sensorineural hearing loss characterized by onset of deafness in childhood followed later in adult life by progressive neural degeneration affecting the brain and optic nerves. MTS is caused by mutations in the DDP/TIMM8A gene which encodes for a 97 amino acid polypeptide; this polypeptide is a translocase of the inner mitochrondrial membrane.
To describe the otologic presentation and temporal bone histopathology in 4 affected individuals with MTS.
Material and Methods
All 4 subjects belonged to a large, multigeneration, Norwegian family and were known to carry a frame shift mutation in the TIMM8A gene. Temporal bones were removed at autopsy and studied by light microscopy. Cytocochleograms were constructed for hair cells, stria vascularis and cochlear neuronal cells. Vestibular neurons were also counted.
All 4 subjects developed progressive hearing loss in early childhood, becoming profoundly deaf by the age of 10 years. All 4 developed language and at least one subject used amplification in early life. Audiometric evaluation in two subjects showed 80-100 dB hearing loss by the age of 10 years. The subjects died between the ages of 49 and 67. The otopathology was strikingly similar, in that all bones examined showed near-total loss of cochlear neuronal cells and severe loss of vestibular neurons. When compared to age-matched controls, there was 90 to 95% loss of cochlear neurons and 75 to 85% loss of vestibular neurons.
We infer that the hearing loss in MTS is likely to be the result of a postnatal and progressive degeneration of cochlear neurons, and that MTS constitutes a true auditory neuropathy. Our findings have implications for clinical diagnosis of patients with MTS, and management of the hearing loss.
temporal bone; histopathology; hereditary hearing loss; Mohr-Tranebjærg syndrome
Deaf people who use cochlear implants show surprisingly poor sensitivity to the temporal fine structure of sounds. One possible reason is that conventional cochlear implants cannot activate selectively the auditory-nerve fibers having low characteristic frequencies (CFs), which, in normal hearing, phase lock to stimulus fine structure. Recently, we tested in animals an alternative mode of auditory prosthesis employing penetrating auditory-nerve electrodes that permit frequency-specific excitation in all frequency regions. We present here measures of temporal transmission through the auditory brainstem – from pulse trains presented with various auditory-nerve electrodes to phase-locked activity of neurons in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC). On average, intraneural stimulation resulted in significant ICC phase locking at higher pulse rates (i.e., higher “limiting rates”) than did cochlear-implant stimulation. That could be attributed, however, to the larger percentage of low-CF neurons activated selectively by intraneural stimulation. Most ICC neurons with limiting rates >500 pulses per second had CFs <1.5 kHz, whereas neurons with lower limiting rates tended to have higher CFs. High limiting rates also correlated strongly with short first-spike latencies. It follows that short latencies correlated significantly with low CFs, opposite to the correlation observed with acoustical stimulation. These electrical-stimulation results reveal a high-temporal-acuity brainstem pathway characterized by low CFs, short latencies, and high-fidelity transmission of periodic stimulation. Frequency-specific stimulation of that pathway by intraneural stimulation might improve temporal acuity in human users of a future auditory prosthesis, which in turn might improve musical pitch perception and speech reception in noise.
Inferior colliculus; phase locking; cochlear implant; temporal acuity; latency; auditory nerve
Congenital deafness leads to atypical organization of the auditory nervous system. However, the extent to which auditory pathways reorganize during deafness is not well understood. We recorded cortical auditory evoked potentials in normal hearing children and in congenitally deaf children fitted with cochlear implants. High-density EEG and source modeling revealed principal activity from auditory cortex in normal hearing and early implanted children. However, children implanted after a critical period of seven years revealed activity from parietotemporal cortex in response to auditory stimulation, demonstrating reorganized cortical pathways. Reorganization of central auditory pathways is limited by the age at which implantation occurs, and may help explain the benefits and limitations of implantation in congenitally deaf children.
Auditory evoked potential; critical period; deafness; development; neuroplasticity; source localization
Cortical development is dependent on stimulus-driven learning. The absence of sensory input from birth, as occurs in congenital deafness, affects normal growth and connectivity needed to form a functional sensory system—resulting in deficits in oral language learning. Cochlear implants bypass cochlear damage by directly stimulating the auditory nerve and brain, making it possible to avoid many of the deleterious effects of sensory deprivation. Congenitally deaf animals and children who receive implants provide a platform to examine the characteristics of cortical plasticity in the auditory system. In this review, we discuss the existence of, time limits for, and mechanistic constraints on sensitive periods for cochlear implantation and describe the effects of multimodal and cognitive re-organization that results from long-term auditory deprivation.
Reticular dysgenesis (RD) is an autosomal recessive form of human Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, characterized by an early differentiation arrest in the myeloid lineage and impaired lymphoid maturation. In addition, affected newborns have bilateral sensorineural deafness. We have identified biallelic mutations in the adenylate kinase 2 (AK2) gene in seven patients affected with RD. These mutations resulted in the absence or a strong decrease in protein expression. We then demonstrated that restoration of AK2 expression in the bone marrow cells of RD patients overcomes the neutrophil differentiation arrest underlining its specific requirement in the development of a restricted set of haematopoietic lineages. Lastly, we established that AK2 is specifically expressed in the stria vascularis region of the inner ear, which provides an explanation to the sensorineural deafness. These results suggest a novel mechanism regulating haematopoetic cell differentiation, and involved in one of the most severe human immunodeficiency syndromes.
Rat pups (Rattus norvegicus) are born blind and deaf yet manage to wriggle about in a huddle, dynamically adjusting their positions and thereby displaying thermoregulation and energy conservation at the level of the group. As pups develop, their activity and mobility outpace the development of their visual and auditory systems making it increasingly difficult to aggregate and maintain aggregation while still blind and deaf. The developmental emergence of coupled activity may be one mechanism that facilitates aggregation. Our previous research has shown that the activity of a seven-day-old pup is independent of the activity of the litter mates it contacts. However, we hypothesized that, by day 10, more active and mobile pups will exhibit coupled activity, becoming increasingly quiescent when in contact with other behaviourally quiescent pups. In order to test this hypothesis, we used individual-based modelling. Because the structure of the model was complex, we used a Darwinian algorithm for evolving a model that behaved like ten-day-old pups aggregating in an arena. Sensitivity to quiescent individuals was manifested in some litters by the transitory spreading of quiescence across aggregates of both real and virtual pups (a contagion effect). As pups develop, individual behaviour becomes increasingly contingent on the behaviour of others revealing what may be a basic component in the development of cooperative behaviour.
Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is a major cause of bilateral and unilateral sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in children, accounting for 9.0% of SNHL cases. The diagnostic rate using combined genetic deafness test and CMV DNA detection test was determined to be 46.4% in bilateral profound SNHL.
The present study investigated the prevalence of congenital CMV infection diagnosed retrospectively by detection of CMV DNA in dried umbilical cord specimens from children with unilateral or bilateral SNHL up to the age of 12 years.
Preserved dried umbilical cords were collected from 134 children with bilateral (46 children) or unilateral (88 children) SNHL. DNA was extracted from the dried umbilical cords and CMV DNA was detected by quantitative PCR. Genetic deafness tests based on the invader assay were performed in children with bilateral SNHL.
CMV DNA from the dried umbilical cords was detected in 8.7% of the bilateral SNHL and 9.1% of unilateral SNHL. Deafness gene mutations were identified in 21.7% (10/46) of children with bilateral SNHL.
Sensorineural hearing loss; GJB2; SLC26A4
Positional cloning of mouse deafness mutations uncovered a plethora of proteins that have important functions in the peripheral auditory system in particular in the cochlear organ of Corti and stria vascularis. Most of these mutant variants follow a monogenic form of inheritance and are rare, highly penetrant, and deleterious alleles. Inbred and heterogenous strains of mice, in contrast, present with non-syndromic hearing impairment due to the effects of multiple genes and hypomorphic and less penetrant alleles that are often transmitted in a non-Mendelian manner. Here we review hearing loss inheritance patterns as they were discovered in different strains of mice and discuss the relevance of candidate genes to late-onset progressive hearing impairment in mouse and human.
Hearing loss; inbred strains; heterogeneous strains; presbycusis
Thiamine-responsive megaloblastic anaemia (TRMA; OMIM 249270) syndrome is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by diabetes mellitus, megaloblastic anaemia, and sensorineural deafness. Progressive hearing loss is one of the cardinal findings of the syndrome and is known to be irreversible. Whether the deafness in TRMA syndrome can be prevented is not yet known. Here, we report a four-month-old female infant diagnosed with TRMA syndrome at an early age. There was no hearing loss at the time of diagnosis. The patient’s initial auditory evoked brainstem response measurements were normal. Although she was given thiamine supplementation regularly following the diagnosis, the patient developed moderate sensorineural hearing loss at 20 months of age, indicating that early diagnosis and treatment with oral thiamine (100 mg/day) could not prevent deafness in TRMA syndrome. It would be premature to draw general conclusions from one case, but we believe that further patient-based observations can shed light on the pathophysiology of this rare syndrome as well as prediction of its prognosis.
Conflict of interest:None declared.
Thiamine-responsive megaloblastic anaemia; Diabetes; deafness
Hearing impairment is the most common sensory disorder, with congenital hearing
impairment present in ~1 in 1000 newborns1,
and yet there is no cellular cure for deafness. Hereditary deafness is often mediated by the
developmental failure or degeneration of cochlear hair cells2. Until now, it was not known whether such congenital failures could be mitigated by
therapeutic intervention3-5. Here we show that hearing and vestibular function can be rescued in a mouse model
of human hereditary deafness. An antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) was used to correct defective
pre–mRNA splicing of transcripts from the mutated
USH1C.216G>A gene, which causes human Usher syndrome
(Usher), the leading genetic cause of combined deafness and blindness6,7. Treatment of neonatal mice with a
single systemic dose of ASO partially corrects USH1C.216G>A splicing,
increases protein expression, improves stereocilia organization in the cochlea, and rescues cochlear
hair cells, vestibular function and hearing in mice. Our results demonstrate the therapeutic
potential of ASOs in the treatment of deafness and provide evidence that congenital deafness can be
effectively overcome by treatment early in development to correct gene expression.
Clinical data from 72 dog breeds of varying size and life expectancy were grouped according to breed body mass and tested for prevalence at ages 4 to 5, ages 7 to 10, and lifetime incidence of non-hereditary, age-related cataract (ARC). The incidence of ARC was found to be directly related to the relative life expectancies in the breed groups: The smallest dog breeds had a lower ARC prevalence between ages 4 and 5 than mid-size breeds and these, in turn, a lower prevalence than the giant breeds. A similar sequence was evident for ages 7 to 10 and for overall lifetime incidence of ARC. These differences became more significant when comparing small and giant breeds only. We could also confirm the inverse relationship between body size and life expectancy in these same sets of dog breeds. Our results show that body size, life expectancy, and ARC incidence are interrelated in dogs. Given that ARC has been shown to be at least partially caused by oxidative damage to lens epithelial cells and the internal lens, we suggest that it can be considered not only as a general biomarker for life expectancy in the canine and possibly other species, but also for the systemic damages produced by reactive oxygen species. This suggests new approaches to examine the gene expression pathways affecting the above-noted linkages.
Dog; Age-related cataract; Breeds; Size; Life span
Intensive breeding and selection on desired traits have produced high rates of inherited diseases in dogs. Hereditary retinal degeneration, often called progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), is prevalent in dogs with disease entities comparable to human retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and Leber's congenital amaurosis (LCA). Recent molecular studies in the English Springer Spaniel (ESS) dog have shown that PRA cases are often homozygous for a mutation in the RPGRIP1 gene, the defect also causing human RP, LCA, and cone rod dystrophies. The present study characterizes the disease in a group of affected ESS in USA, using clinical, functional, and morphological studies. An objective evaluation of retinal function using electroretinography (ERG) is further performed in a masked fashion in a group of American ESS dogs, with the examiner masked to the genetic status of the dogs. Only 4 of 6 homozygous animals showed clinical signs of disease, emphasizing the need and importance for more precise studies on the clinical expression of molecular defects before utilizing animal models for translational research, such as when using stem cells for therapeutic intervention.
This four-experiment series sought to evaluate the potential of children with neurosensory deafness and cochlear implants to exhibit auditory–visual and visual–visual stimulus equivalence relations within a matching-to-sample format. Twelve children who became deaf prior to acquiring language (prelingual) and four who became deaf afterwards (postlingual) were studied. All children learned auditory–visual conditional discriminations and nearly all showed emergent equivalence relations. Naming tests, conducted with a subset of the children, showed no consistent relationship to the equivalence-test outcomes. This study makes several contributions to the literature on stimulus equivalence. First, it demonstrates that both pre- and postlingually deaf children can acquire auditory–visual equivalence relations after cochlear implantation, thus demonstrating symbolic functioning. Second, it directs attention to a population that may be especially interesting for researchers seeking to analyze the relationship between speaker and listener repertoires. Third, it demonstrates the feasibility of conducting experimental studies of stimulus control processes within the limitations of a hospital, which these children must visit routinely for the maintenance of their cochlear implants.
cochlear implant; symbolic function; stimulus equivalence; deaf children; mouse clicks
Deafness is the most common sensory disorder in humans and the aetiology of genetic deafness is complex. Mouse mutants have been crucial in identifying genes involved in hearing. However, many deafness genes remain unidentified. Using N-ethyl N−nitrosourea (ENU) mutagenesis to generate new mouse models of deafness, we identified a novel semi-dominant mouse mutant, Cloth-ears (Clth). Cloth-ears mice show reduced acoustic startle response and mild hearing loss from ∼30 days old. Auditory-evoked brainstem response (ABR) and distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) analyses indicate that the peripheral neural auditory pathway is impaired in Cloth-ears mice, but that cochlear function is normal. In addition, both Clth/Clth and Clth/+ mice display paroxysmal tremor episodes with behavioural arrest. Clth/Clth mice also show a milder continuous tremor during movement and rest. Longitudinal phenotypic analysis showed that Clth/+ and Clth/Clth mice also have complex defects in behaviour, growth, neurological and motor function. Positional cloning of Cloth-ears identified a point mutation in the neuronal voltage-gated sodium channel α-subunit gene, Scn8a, causing an aspartic acid to valine (D981V) change six amino acids downstream of the sixth transmembrane segment of the second domain (D2S6). Complementation testing with a known Scn8a mouse mutant confirmed that this mutation is responsible for the Cloth-ears phenotype. Our findings suggest a novel role for Scn8a in peripheral neural hearing loss and paroxysmal motor dysfunction.
Deafness; mouse; paroxysmal motor; peripheral neural hearing loss; Scn8a; Nav1.6; tremor; VGSC
The early identification of pre-lingual deafness is necessary to minimize the consequences of hearing impairment on the future communication skills of a baby. According to the most recent international guidelines the deafness diagnosis must occur before the age of three months and the prosthetic-rehabilitative treatment with a traditional hearing aid should start within the first six months. When a Cochlear implant becomes necessary, the treatment should start between the age of 12 months and 18 months. The only way to diagnose the problem early is the implementation of universal neonatal audiological screening programs. Transient evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAE) is the most adequate test because it's accurate, economic and of simple execution. Automatic auditory brainstem response (AABR) is necessary to identify patients with auditory neuropathy but it is also important to reduce the number of false-positives.The 20-30% of infant hearing impairment is represented by progressive or late-onset hearing loss (HL) so it's also necessary to establish an audiological follow up program, especially in infants at risk.
From November 2005 all neonates born in the University hospital of Pisa undergo newborn hearing screening. From 2008 the screening program follows the guidelines for the execution of the audiological screening in Tuscany which have been formulated by our group according to the 2007 JCIH Position Statement and adaptated to our regional reality by a multidisciplinary effort. From November 2005 to April 2009 8113 neonates born in the Neonatal Unit of Santa Chiara Hospital (Pisa) have undergone newborn hearing screening. 7621 neonates (93.9%) without risk factors executed only the TEOAE test. 492 (6.1%) neonates had audiological risk factors and thus underwent TEOAE and AABR. 84 patients (1,04%) failed both TEOAE and AABR tests. 78 of them underwent further investigations. 44 patients resulted falsepositives (the 0,54% of the screened newborns). 34 neonates (4,2 ‰) had a final diagnosis of hearing impairment. 8 patients (0.99 ‰) had unilateral hearing loss (HL). 26 patients (3,2 ‰) had bilateral hearing impairment.
In our screening program the percentage of false-positives was quite low (0.54%) while the incidence of bilateral HL (3.2 ‰) is a little higher than that found in literature reports. In most of our patients premature birth or neonatal suffering represent the main cause of HL.