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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 6-11

Effect of vitiligo on the cochlea


Audiovestibular Unit, ENT Department, Faculty of Medicine for Girls, Al Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt

Date of Submission24-Jun-2018
Date of Acceptance08-Oct-2018
Date of Web Publication14-Feb-2019

Correspondence Address:
Reda Mohamed Abd Alwahab Behairy
Lecturer of Audiovestibular Unit, ENT Department, Faculty of Medicine for Girls, Al Azhar University, Cairo
Egypt
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ejo.ejo_49_18

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  Abstract 


Background Vitiligo is the disappearance of functional melanocytes (MCs) from the involved skin by a mechanism(s) that has not yet been identified.
Objective The aim was to study the effects of different types of vitiligo on cochlear function.
Patients and methods This study involved 30 vitiligo patients who constituted the study group and 30 matched healthy individuals who served as the control group. Cochlear function was studied using pure-tone audiometry and transient-evoked otoacoustic emission.
Results Normal pure-tone thresholds were found in vitiligo patients with no statistically significant difference between the control and vitiligo groups on both ears. There was a statistically significant difference between control and vitiligo groups as regards the signal-to-noise ratio at a frequency band of 4 kHz on both ears. Cochlear function is affected equally in both generalized and localized vitiligo subgroups. The duration of vitiligo does not have an effect on cochlear function.

Keywords: otoacoustic emission, pure-tone audiometry, signal-to-noise ratio, vitiligo


How to cite this article:
ElGohary ME, Behairy RA, Awida AM. Effect of vitiligo on the cochlea. Egypt J Otolaryngol 2019;35:6-11

How to cite this URL:
ElGohary ME, Behairy RA, Awida AM. Effect of vitiligo on the cochlea. Egypt J Otolaryngol [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 May 25];35:6-11. Available from: http://www.ejo.eg.net/text.asp?2019/35/1/6/251312




  Introduction Top


Vitiligo is an idiopathic, acquired, circumscribed hypomelanotic skin disorder resulting from loss of pigment-forming melanocytes (MCs). Many possible causes of vitiligo have been proposed, including stress, infections, mutations, neural factors, melatonin receptor dysfunction, and impaired MC migration and/or proliferation by Kemp et al. [1].

MCs are found not only in the skin but also in the leptomeninges, retinal pigment epithelium, uveal tract, and in the inner ear. The role of MCs in the inner ear is not completely understood. It is known that they are necessary for the normal development and function of the stria vascularis Steel and Barkway [2], Cable et al. [3], Tachibana [4], and Araki et al. [5].

Franz et al. [6] and Ardic et al. [7] have suggested a direct relation between cochlear dysfunction and decreased amounts of melanin. It is thus thought that melanin has a protective role against harmful agents in the inner ear. Loss of MCs, resulting in decreased melanin production as occurs in vitiligo, could decrease cochlear health.

Evaluation of auditory functions in patients with vitiligo has been the subject of only a few studies and a variety of abnormalities have been reported. In this regard, the present study was designed to detect the effect of vitligo on the cochlea.


  Patients and methods Top


Patients

The study group included 30 vitiligo patients (eight men and 22 women). The duration of the disease ranged from 6 months to 30 years. They were divided as follows: (a) according to the type of vitiligo into generalized (15 patients) and localized (15 patients) and (b) according to the duration of vitiligo into: less than 10 years and greater than or equal to 10 years. They were selected from the Dermatology Clinic at Al Zhraa University Hospital. Thirty healthy participants served as a control group (six men and 24 women). The age of the control and study groups ranged from 6 to 40 years with a mean of 20.4±8.1 and 21.2±10.2, respectively.

Exclusion criteria for the control and study groups included any middle ear disease, previous ear surgery, familial hearing loss, ototoxic drug intake, chronic noise exposure, head trauma, and presence of any systemic disease such as diabetes or hypertension. Patients with other autoimmune disorders and skin manifestations were also excluded.

Methods

All participants included were subjected to the following: otological examination, audiometric testing using Interacoustics AC40 (Interacoustics, Danish) pure-tone audiometry (PTA) was done (air conduction and bone conduction threshold). Immittancemetry were performed using Miaco 44 (MI44) (Miaco, German) to insure normal middle ear function. Transient-evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAEs) using Madsen Capella (Otometrics, Danish) (cochlear emission analyzer) were elicited by nonlinear click stimuli at stimulus intensity ranges from 80 dB peak equivalent sound pressure level, 80 µs duration, at a rate of 50 clicks per second, within a time window of 20 ms. TEOAEs were analyzed by recording 260 sweeps in one session and averaged within five frequency bands centered at (1, 1.5, 2, 3, and 4 kHz). According to Kemp [8], those who showed an overall reproducibility of 70% were described to have a pass result and those with less than 70% but still had greater than 50% were considered to have a present TEOAE and were described to have a partial pass result.

Statistical analysis

Data were analyzed with SPSS version 21 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois, USA). The normality of data was first tested with one-sample Kolmogorov–Smirnov test. Qualitative data were described using number and percent. The association between categorical variables was tested using χ2-test. Continuous variables were presented as mean±SD. The two groups were compared with Student’s t- test. Analysis of variance test was used for comparison of means of more than two groups.


  Results Top


No statistically significant difference was found between control and study groups as regard age and gender. No statistically significant difference between control and study groups in PTA threshold at all frequencies. TEOAE (SNR) shows highly statistically significant difference between control and study groups at high frequency. All of the control show pass response. In the study group, most of the ears show pass response(39/60) 65%, about one third of the ears(21/60) 35% show patial pass response. Neither the control nor the study group showed failed response. No statistically significant difference was found in the pure tone threshold between control group and type of vitiligo subgroups at any frequency in right and left ears (P>0.05). TEOAE (SNR) shows highly statistically significant difference between control group and different type of vitiligo subgroups at frequency band 4 kHz in right and left ears. No statistically significant difference was found in the pure tone threshold of the control group and vitiligo subgroups according to vitiligo duration. TEOAE (SNR) showed highly statistically significant difference between control group and different duration of vitiligo subgroups at frequency band 4 kHz in the right and left ears. But no statistically significant difference was found between the two vitiligo subgroups with different vitiligo duration.


  Discussion Top


The present study was designed to examine cochlear function in generalized and localized vitiligo patients and to detect the effect of duration of vitiligo on cochlear function. There is no statistically significant difference in results between control and study groups as regards age and gender [Table 1] and [Table 2]).
Table 1 Age distribution of the control group and the study group

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Table 2 Gender distribution of the control group and the study group

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In the current study, audiological assessment using PTA shows that there is no hearing loss in the control and study groups and no statistically significant difference of PTA threshold between control and vitiligo groups at any frequency from 250 to 8000 Hz ([Table 3]).
Table 3 Comparison of pure-tone thresholds (mean±SD) in control and study groups

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These results are in agreement with Anbar et al. [9], Shalaby et al. [10], Ozuer et al. [11], Escalante-Ugalde et al. [12], and Orecchia et al. [13], who found that vitiligo patients had near-normal pure-tone thresholds and no statistically significant difference between the control and vitiligo groups in PTA on both ears.

The current study disagrees with the results of Mohamed et al. [14], Fleissig et al. [15], Mahdi et al. [16], Akay et al. [17], Hong et al. [18], who found different degrees of SNHL in vitiligo patients as compared with controls. This difference was statistically significant (P<0.001). This disagreement may be due to different sample sizes and different ages of the study group.

Comparing the cochlear function of both ears in patients with vitiligo with the cochlear function of the control group using TEOAEs was done. Cochlear dysfunction was evident in patients with vitiligo in the form of smaller S/N ratio at 4000 Hz band ([Table 4]) and higher percentage of abnormal TEOAE findings in the form of partial pass response (35%) ([Table 5]). This supports previous studies that demonstrated subclinical abnormalities of melanin-containing cellular elements of the auditory system in patients with vitiligo Tosti et al. [19] and Aydogan et al. [20]. Also Mohamed et al. [14] reported that TEOAEs had the advantages of detecting minimal cochlear dysfunction in vitiligo patients.
Table 4 Comparison of TEOAE SNR (mean±SD) in control and study groups

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Table 5 Number and percent of pass, partial pass, and failed responses of TEOAE in control and study groups

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This result agrees with Aslan et al. [21], who found a significant reduction in the amplitude of TEOAEs only at 4 kHz in the vitiligo group. The current study agrees also with Anbar et al. [9], who found that 64 ears (60%) of patients with vitiligo had cochlear dysfunction while the control group exhibited no abnormalities using DPOAEs.

The lost cochlear emission in the vitiligo group was previously explained by Schrott et al. [22]. They stated that hypopigmentation disorders may lead to degeneration of the outer hair cells beginning from the basal turn of the cochlea. The MCs in the inner ear have multiple roles critical for hair cell survival, including maintenance of the normal function of the stria vascularis Tachibana [4]. Inner ear melanin functions as an intracellular calcium buffer and as a depot of essential metal ions that control the activity of various enzymes and metabolic processes Barrenas and Lindgren [23], and Barrenas and Axelsson [24]. MCs in the inner ear are required for the development of endocochlear potentials, control of ions and fluid gradient between the endolymph and the perilymph Halaban et al. [25].

In the current study, the cochlear function of the ears of patients with generalized vitiligo and the cochlear function of the ears of patients with localized vitiligo were compared. No statistically significant difference in the PTA threshold and the TEOAE S/N ratio were found [Table 6] and [Table 7]. This suggests that there is no significant effect of vitiligo subtype on cochlear function.
Table 6 Comparison of pure-tone thresholds (mean±SD) in the control group and study subgroups according to the vitiligo type

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Table 7 Comparison between mean and SD of TEOAE (SNR) of the control group and study subgroups according to the vitiligo type

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These results are in agreement with Fleissig et al. [15] and Anbar et al. [9], who found that hearing losses in the groups with different types of vitiligo were not significantly different from each other. On the other hand, Sharma et al. [26] and Hong et al. [18] found generalized vitiligo and nonsegmental vitiligo to be a risk factor for SNHL.

PTA and TEOAE results showed no statistically significant difference between patients with a duration of less than and more than 10 years [Table 8] and [Table 9]. It is concluded that the duration of vitiligo does not have an effect on cochlear function. This could be explained by the possibility that otic MCs are affected at the start of the vitiligo and then stabilized afterwards Mahdi et al. [16].
Table 8 Comparison of pure-tone thresholds (mean±SD) in the control group and study subgroups according to vitiligo duration

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Table 9 Comparison of TEOAE (SNR) mean±SD in the control group and study subgroups according to vitiligo duration

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Fleissig et al. [15], Shalaby et al. [10], and Sharma et al. [26] found that the duration of vitiligo does not affect hearing. They postulated that there is no correlation between the duration of vitiligo and hearing loss.

The current study contradicts Aslan et al. [21], who concluded that the duration of vitiligo affects hearing. They found a statistically significant positive correlation between the duration of vitiligo and hearing loss.


  Conclusion Top


Vitiligo has an effect on cochlear function and the affection is usually asymptomatic for a long time. Cochlear function is affected equally in both generalized and localized vitiligo subgroups. There is no correlation between the duration of vitiligo and hearing loss. TEOAE is a sensitive test for detecting cochlear dysfunction before symptoms become manifested as the TEOAE was impaired in 35% of the ears with normal hearing.

Recommendation

Vitiligo patients required routine monitoring by specialists for early identification of auditory changes. Further study should be done to assess the effect of vitiligo on the central auditory nervous system.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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Kemp EH, Waterman EA, Weetman AP. Immunological pathomechanisms in vitiligo. Expert Revi Mol Med 2001; 3:1462–3994.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
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Kemp DT. Otoacoustic emissions, their origin in cochlear function and use. Br Med Bull 2002; 63:223–224.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
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Anbar TS, El-Badry MM, McGrath JA, Abdel-Azim ES. Mostindividuals with either segmental or non-segmental vitiligo display evidence of bilateral cochlear dysfunction. Br J Dermatol 2015; 172:406–411.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
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Shalaby M, El-Zarea G, Nasar A. Auditory function in vitiligo patients. Egypt Dermatol Online J 2006; 2:7.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7], [Table 8], [Table 9]



 

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