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    Persistent tinnitus is common, disabling, and difficult to treat. To evaluate the association between circulating metabolites and persistent tinnitus. This was a population-based case-control study of 6477 women who were participants in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and NHS II with metabolomic profiles and tinnitus data. Information on tinnitus onset and frequency was collected on biennial questionnaires (2009-2017). For cases, metabolomic profiles were measured (2015-2021) in blood samples collected after the date of the participant's first report of persistent tinnitus (NHS, 1989-1999 and 2010-2012; NHS II, 1996-1999). Data analyses were performed from January 24, 2022, to January 14, 2023. In total, 466 plasma metabolites from 488 cases of persistent tinnitus and 5989 controls were profiled using 3 complementary liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry approaches. Logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) of persistent tinnitus (per 1 SD increase in metabolite values) and 95% CIs for each individual metabolite. Metabolite set enrichment analysis was used to identify metabolite classes enriched for associations with tinnitus. Of the 6477 study participants (mean [SD] age, 52 [9] years; 6477 [100%] female; 6121 [95%] White individuals) who were registered nurses, 488 reported experiencing daily persistent (≥5 minutes) tinnitus. Compared with participants with no tinnitus (5989 controls), those with persistent tinnitus were slightly older (53.0 vs 51.8 years) and more likely to be postmenopausal, using oral postmenopausal hormone therapy, and have type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and/or hearing loss at baseline. Compared with controls, homocitrulline (OR, 1.32; (95% CI, 1.16-1.50); C38:6 phosphatidylethanolamine (PE; OR, 1.24; 95% CIs, 1.12-1.38), C52:6 triglyceride (TAG; OR, 1.22; 95% CIs, 1.10-1.36), C36:4 PE (OR, 1.22; 95% CIs, 1.10-1.35), C40:6 PE (OR, 1.22; 95% CIs, 1.09-1.35), and C56:7 TAG (OR, 1.21; 95% CIs, 1.09-1.34) were positively associated, whereas α-keto-β-methylvalerate (OR, 0.68; 95% CIs, 0.56-0.82) and levulinate (OR, 0.60; 95% CIs, 0.46-0.79) were inversely associated with persistent tinnitus. Among metabolite classes, TAGs (normalized enrichment score [NES], 2.68), PEs (NES, 2.48), and diglycerides (NES, 1.65) were positively associated, whereas phosphatidylcholine plasmalogens (NES, -1.91), lysophosphatidylcholines (NES, -2.23), and cholesteryl esters (NES,-2.31) were inversely associated with persistent tinnitus. This population-based case-control study of metabolomic profiles and tinnitus identified novel plasma metabolites and metabolite classes that were significantly associated with persistent tinnitus, suggesting that metabolomic studies may help improve understanding of tinnitus pathophysiology and identify therapeutic targets for this challenging disorder.


    Oana A Zeleznik, D Bradley Welling, Konstantina Stankovic, Lisa Frueh, Raji Balasubramanian, Gary C Curhan, Sharon G Curhan. Association of Plasma Metabolomic Biomarkers With Persistent Tinnitus: A Population-Based Case-Control Study. JAMA otolaryngology-- head & neck surgery. 2023 May 01;149(5):404-415

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    PMID: 36928544

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