Auditory neuropathy (AN) is a hearing disorder characterized by the absence or severe distortion of the auditory brainstem responses, in the presence of preserved otoacoustic emissions. This peculiar combination suggests the presence of a defect impinging upon the functional complex formed by inner hair cells, the primary afferents (spiral ganglion neurones) and the first order synapses between hair cells and the cochlear nerve. Typically, AN patients show a severe speech perception impairment, which appears reduced out of proportion to pure tone threshold, but the clinical presentation of AN is quite complex.
Hearing loss is a common symptom associated with mitochondrial diseases; however, AN has only rarely been reported in these disorders.
Here we report a rare association, the first case observed in Italy, in a patient with autosomal recessive mitochondrial myopathy and mitochondrial DNA multiple deletions, and a hearing deficit with the audiological and electrophysiological features of AN.