Multiple viral genome search in endolabyrinthic fluids of profoundly deaf patients: Possible cytomegalovirus intracochlear reactivation

W. Di Nardo, P. Cattani, T. Lopizzo, I. Cantore, M. R. Marchese, S. Marchetti, A. Scorpecci, S. Giannantonio, C. Parrilla, F. Cianfrone, G. Fadda, G. Paludetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The cause of about 30% of bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is still unknown. A viral etiology is among the most frequently proposed ones and the supposed diagnosis is only based upon few clinical and laboratory data. The detection of viral presence within a damaged compartment may represent a way to supply interesting data for confirmation of viral etiology and to explain pathogenic mechanisms. Objectives: The aim of our study was to identify the possible presence of pathogenic viruses in the inner ear extracellular compartment in patients with bilateral severe sensorineural deafness of unknown etiology who underwent cochlear implant surgery. Methods: 4 patients, aged from 2 to 7 years and affected by SNHL underwent cochlear implantation surgery and, at the same time, endolabyrinthine fluid sampling. The samples were subsequently sent for viral nucleic acid extraction and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) treatment: multiplex PCR and realtime-PCR were used. In each endolabyrinthine fluid sample, cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), varicella-zoster virus (VZV), herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2 (HSV-1, HSV-2) and enterovirus genomes were searched for. Results: One patient was positive for intracochlear CMV, as confirmed by another base-pair segment PCR. EBV, VZV, HSV and enterovirus were detected in none of the 4 patients. Conclusions: Our finding of CMV genome within the cochlea of a deaf patient without any evidence of acute and prenatal CMV infection suggests its possible role in postnatal inner ear injury through reactivation of latent virus within the cochlea. This hypothesis could also be considered valid for some patients with anti-CMV-IgG-positive serology and absence of endolabyrinthine viral genome since viruses can be in an inactive state at the time of fluid collection. PCR has proved to be a very useful tool in order to investigate infectious causes of deafness even for more than one virus type at a time and in a limited quantity of sample, such as the small volume of endolabyrinthine liquid collected from children during cochlear implant surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-295
Number of pages6
JournalAudiology and Neurotology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


  • Cochlea
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Hearing loss
  • Inner ear
  • Perilymph
  • Viral reactivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Speech and Hearing


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