Familial aggregation of pure tone hearing thresholds in an aging European population

Jan Jaap Hendrickx, Jeroen R. Huyghe, Vedat Topsakal, Kelly Demeester, Thomas F. Wienker, Lut Van Laer, Els Van Eyken, Erik Fransen, Elina Mäki-Torkko, Samuli Hannula, Agnete Parving, Mona Jensen, Anke Tropitzsch, Amanda Bonaconsa, Manuela Mazzoli, Angeles Espeso, Katja Verbruggen, Joke Huyghe, Patrick L M Huygen, Hannie KremerSylvia J. Kunst, Amalia N. Diaz-Lacava, Michael Steffens, Ilmari Pyykkö, Ingeborg Dhooge, Dafydd Stephens, Eva Orzan, Markus H F Pfister, Michael Bille, Martti Sorri, Cor W R J Cremers, Guy Van Camp, Paul Van De Heyning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the familial correlations and intraclass correlation of age-related hearing impairment (ARHI) in specific frequencies. In addition, heritability estimates were calculated. STUDY DESIGN: Multicenter survey in 8 European centers. SUBJECTS: One hundred ninety-eight families consisting of 952 family members, screened by otologic examination and structured interviews. Subjects with general conditions, known to affect hearing thresholds or known otologic cause were excluded from the study. RESULTS: We detected familial correlation coefficients of 0.36, 0.37, 0.36, and 0.30 for 0.25, 0.5, 1, and 2 kHz, respectively, and correlation coefficients of 0.20 and 0.18 for 4 and 8 kHz, respectively. Variance components analyses showed that the proportion of the total variance attributable to family differences was between 0.32 and 0.40 for 0.25, 0.5, 1, and 2 kHz and below 0.20 for 4 and 8 kHz. When testing for homogeneity between sib pair types, we observed a larger familial correlation between female than male subjects. Heritability estimates ranged between 0.79 and 0.36 across the frequencies. DISCUSSION: Our results indicate that there is a substantial shared familial effect in ARHI. We found that familial aggregation of ARHI is markedly higher in the low frequencies and that there is a trend toward higher familial aggregation in female compared with male subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)838-844
Number of pages7
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Age-related hearing impairment
  • Genetics
  • Heritability
  • Pure tone audiometry
  • Sensorineural hearing loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Medicine(all)


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