Background: Pathogenic mutations in the mitochondrial genome are associated with a wide variety of maternally inherited human diseases including sensorineural hearing loss (HL). A specific mutation, m.1555A>G in the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene, is associated with predisposition to aminoglycoside ototoxicity and HL. Mutation screening in this gene has been recommended before use of aminoglycosides as a preventative strategy to reduce the risk of ototoxicity.
Objective: To study the incidence of mutations in the 12S rRNA gene in patients being treated with aminoglycosides and its correlation with ototoxicity.
Methods: Patients undergoing treatment with aminoglycosides were prospectively enrolled in this study (n = 27). Total dosage administered and therapeutic levels of the antibiotic were noted. All patients underwent high-frequency pure-tone audiometry pre- and posttherapy and sequencing of the 12S rRNA gene. In addition, 12S rRNA gene was also sequenced in 50 controls to characterize population specific polymorphisms.
Results: Five of 27 patients suffered from HL involving the high frequencies: four mild and one moderate. Only one of the five patients with ototoxicity harbored two sequence alterations in 12S rRNA of uncertain pathogenicity. The m.1555A>G and m.961delTInsCn mutations were not detected.
Conclusions: High-frequency pure-tone audiometry is critical for detection of aminoglycoside-induced HL. In the Swiss population, screening for mutations in the 12S rRNA gene, before the initiation of aminoglycoside therapy, is not supported by this limited study. A larger multicenter and multicultural study is warranted to more definitively address this critical clinical issue.