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Acta Otolaryngol. 2012 Jul;132(7):756-62. doi: 10.3109/00016489.2012.656321. Epub 2012 Apr 12.

Progressive familial hearing loss in Muckle-Wells syndrome.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Klinikum Stuttgart, University Hospital Tübingen, Germany.



The age-dependent disease progression requires accelerating diagnosis of Muckle-Wells syndrome (MWS) in order to start treatment as early as possible. The most frequent, but not obligate symptoms are familial fatigue, hearing loss, and arthralgia. The design of further clinical trials should focus on hearing in order to document the long-term effect of anti-interleukin (IL)-1 drugs on hearing preservation.


This paper describes the otologic features of a genetically defined syndrome causing progressive hearing loss by cochlear degeneration. This is the first study reporting the pretreatment otologic presentation of a selected population with familial MWS.


A single-center cohort was examined by audiologic and neurotologic methods including pure tone audiograms, vestibular testing, and tinnitus questionnaire. The audiograms of members of the same family were compared to describe the family-specific risk of hearing loss progression.


Nineteen patients (aged 3-72 years) belonging to four families with three different mutations of the NLRP3 gene were examined. Almost all patients (89%, 17/19) demonstrated bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Hearing loss started in the high frequencies and led to profound deafness in the most severe cases. Even in cases of profound hearing loss the vestibular caloric reactivity was normal. Nearly half of the adults reported intermittent or permanent tinnitus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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