ABO Blood Group and Cochlear Status: Otoacoustic Emission Markers

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There are an increasing number of research studies examining the effects of ABO blood group on susceptibility to disease. However, little is known regarding the potential relationship between blood group and hearing. Higher risk of noise-induced hearing loss was linked to blood group O in several occupational health studies. Based on this finding, a recent study of cochlear status was conducted with normal-hearing female participants representing equal numbers of the four blood groups in the ABO blood group system. ABO blood group was associated with cochlear characteristics, including the prevalence of spontaneous otoacoustic emissions (SOAEs) and the amplitudes of transient-evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAEs) and distortion-product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs). Females with blood group O showed significantly lower amplitudes of DPOAEs at some frequencies and lower prevalence of SOAEs compared with participants with blood group B. There was a general trend of reduced TEOAE and DPOAE amplitudes in blood group O individuals compared with participants with non-O blood groups. Following from this finding, and based on known sex differences in otoacoustic emission characteristics, the present study examined the possible effects of blood group on otoacoustic emission status in males.


Sixty clinically normal-hearing males aged between 18 and 26 years, with equal numbers of participants in each of the ABO blood groups, were recruited by purposive sampling. SOAE, DPOAE, and linear and nonlinear TEOAE recordings were collected from all participants, as well as tympanometric data related to external and middle ear characteristics.


The male blood group O participants exhibited significantly lower SOAE prevalence and reduced amplitudes of DPOAEs on average, and in the midfrequency range, than participants with blood group B, and lower nonlinear and linear TEOAE amplitudes at a number of frequencies when compared with participants with blood groups A and B. A consistent trend of lower TEOAE and DPOAE response amplitudes was observed in participants with blood group O. No significant difference was noted among blood groups for outer or middle ear characteristics.


These results were consistent with previous findings of reduced otoacoustic emission responses in female blood group O individuals. Results support the hypothesis that blood group O individuals may be at increased risk of cochlear damage from noise exposure. Further investigation on the potential link between ABO blood group and auditory status, including potentially differential effects of noise exposure on cochlear function, is needed. The possible effects of ABO blood group on other aspects of audition, such as hearing sensitivity, speech understanding, and auditory processing, should be evaluated.

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