Journal Scan

Impaired hearing in cognitively normal adults may be linked to neurofibrillary neurodegeneration

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Impaired hearing is associated with tau neurofibrillary degeneration, according to a new study.

Researchers studied 2755 autopsied participants older than 55 years of age who had at least 1 clinical evaluation at the U.S. National Institute on Aging-funded Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) Center no more than 2 years before death and were classified as hearing-impaired by clinician report at baseline.

Approximately 32% of participants had impaired hearing. A higher Braak stage was associated with participants who were cognitively normal at baseline.

Impaired hearing was positively associated with microinfarcts and inversely associated with neuritic plaque density in the 2175 participants with dementia. Development of impaired hearing in those with cognitive impairment was associated with neocortical Lewy bodies.

“Impaired hearing in those with cognitive impairment was associated with microinfarcts and neocortical Lewy bodies, but not typical AD pathologic change. Functional hearing problems may be a preclinical marker of neurofibrillary neurodegeneration, although replication is needed,” the authors concluded.

Brenowitz WD, Besser LM, Kukull WA, C, et al. Clinician judged hearing impairment and associations with neuropathologic burden. Neurology. 2020,10.1212/WNL.0000000000010575; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000010575