The association between distress caused by tinnitus and psychological factors such as depression and anxiety has been examined and reported. However, prognostic factors remain poorly understood because there are only a few reports on genetic associations. We theorized there might be an association between the grade of tinnitus distress and the genetic background related to psychological factors which might lead us to identify prognostic markers. We enrolled 138 patients who had suffered from tinnitus for over 3 months. Using Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) scores, we examined the association between tinnitus distress and a genetic background related to depression or anxiety. A significant association between single nucleotide polymorphism rs131702 of the Breakpoint Cluster Region (BCR) gene and the severe THI score was identified. In addition, there was an association with the severity of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, an index of state anxiety severity. No association was found with the Self-Rating Depression Scale, an index of depression severity. It is reported that rs131702 of BCR in Japanese patients are related to bipolar II depression characterized by fluctuation between abnormal mood states of mania and depression. Our results indicate that rs131702 of BCR is independent of depression in this study and is, therefore, a prognostic factor unique to tinnitus. We conclude that the severity of tinnitus is associated with genes related to depression.
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