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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 390601, 10 pages
Review Article

Progress and Prospects in Human Genetic Research into Age-Related Hearing Impairment

1Department of Otolaryngology, Aichi Medical University, Nagakute, Aichi 480-1195, Japan
2Department of Otorhinolaryngology, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Aichi 474-8511, Japan
3Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya 466-8550, Japan

Received 29 January 2014; Accepted 26 June 2014; Published 22 July 2014

Academic Editor: Johan H. M. Frijns

Copyright © 2014 Yasue Uchida et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Age-related hearing impairment (ARHI) is a complex, multifactorial disorder that is attributable to confounding intrinsic and extrinsic factors. The degree of impairment shows substantial variation between individuals, as is also observed in the senescence of other functions. This individual variation would seem to refute the stereotypical view that hearing deterioration with age is inevitable and may indicate that there is ample scope for preventive intervention. Genetic predisposition could account for a sizable proportion of interindividual variation. Over the past decade or so, tremendous progress has been made through research into the genetics of various forms of hearing impairment, including ARHI and our knowledge of the complex mechanisms of auditory function has increased substantially. Here, we give an overview of recent investigations aimed at identifying the genetic risk factors involved in ARHI and of what we currently know about its pathophysiology. This review is divided into the following sections: (i) genes causing monogenic hearing impairment with phenotypic similarities to ARHI; (ii) genes involved in oxidative stress, biologic stress responses, and mitochondrial dysfunction; and (iii) candidate genes for senescence, other geriatric diseases, and neurodegeneration. Progress and prospects in genetic research are discussed.