Sexual dimorphism in the familial aggregation of tinnitus
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Twin and adoption studies point towards a genetic contribution to tinnitus; however, how the genetic risk applies to different forms of tinnitus is poorly understood. Here, we perform a familial aggregation study and determine the relative recurrence risk for tinnitus in siblings (λs). Four different Swedish studies (N = 186,598) were used to estimate the prevalence of self-reported bilateral, unilateral, constant, and severe tinnitus in the general population and we defined whether these 4 different forms of tinnitus segregate in families from the Swedish Tinnitus Outreach Project (STOP, N = 2305). We implemented a percentile bootstrap approach to provide accurate estimates and confidence intervals for λs. We reveal a significant λs for all types of tinnitus, the highest found being 7.27 (95% CI (5.56–9.07)) for severe tinnitus, with a higher susceptibility in women (10.25; 95% CI (7.14–13.61)) than in men (5.03; 95% CI (3.22–7.01)), suggesting that severity may be the most genetically influenced trait in tinnitus in a sex-dependent manner. Our findings strongly support the notion that genetic factors impact on the development of tinnitus, more so for severe tinnitus. These findings highlight the importance of considering tinnitus severity and sex in the design of large genetic studies to optimize diagnostic approaches and ultimately improve therapeutic interventions.