Possible tinnitus gene found: Genetic variation in RCOR1 is associated with tinnitus

The new study identifies candidate genes that could reveal the underlying causes and molecular mechanisms involved in tinnitus and ultimately lead to new targeted treatments.

“Our study has identified a number of interesting candidate genes for further investigation, most notably RCOR1,” write the study authors.

The preprint, which was posted to medRxiv on September 13, 2020, has not yet been certified by peer review but it was supported by funding from some big names such as Action on Hearing Loss and NIHR UCLH BRC (Deafness and Hearing Problems).

March 21, 2021 update: This research has now been peer-reviewed and was recently published in Scientific Reports (Nature). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-85871-6

Researchers performed a genome-wide association study of tinnitus involving 172,608 volunteers.

Identification of the genetic variants involved in tinnitus would help reveal the nature of the mechanisms involved in generating tinnitus after hearing loss, a requisite for development of treatments. Previous pilot genome-wide association studies and candidate gene studies for tinnitus have lacked sufficient power to establish specific genetic risk factors but the relatively high heritability demonstrates there is potential to use such approaches to reveal the underlying mechanisms.

“Three variants in close proximity to the RCOR1 gene reached genome wide significance,” according to the study.

Worth a read.

Link to peer-reviewed paper (full text):


Link to preprint abstract:


Link to preprint [PDF]:


The authors responsible for this fascinating paper (preprint) now at the forefront of the genetics of tinnitus: Helena Rose Rees WellsFatin N Zainul Abidin, Maxim FreydinFrances MK WilliamsSally J Dawson.

It is therefore possible that the association of MYO3B, ARID5B and ZNF318 with tinnitus is secondary to their role in hearing since tinnitus is usually manifested when there is a hearing loss present. However, it may be that the nature of the hearing loss caused by these genes variants creates a deficit which particularly potentiates the generation of tinnitus.

More “tinnitus gene” coverage to follow…

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Wells, H.R.R., Abidin, F.N.Z., Freidin, M.B. et al. Genome-wide association study suggests that variation at the RCOR1 locus is associated with tinnitus in UK Biobank. Sci Rep 11, 6470 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-85871-6

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