Introduction: Hearing loss has been identified as the potentially largest modifiable risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD), estimated to account for a similar increase in AD risk as the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene.
Methods: We investigated the genetic relationship between hearing loss and AD, and sought evidence for a causal relationship.
Results: We found a significant genetic overlap between hearing impairment and AD and a polygenic risk score for AD was able to significantly predict hearing loss in an independent cohort. Additionally, regions of the genome involved in inflammation were identified to be shared between hearing difficulty and AD. However, causality tests found no significant evidence of a causal relationship between these traits in either direction.
Discussion: Overall, these results show that the relationship between hearing difficulty and AD may, in part, be due to shared genes and immune response pathways between the traits. However, currently available data do not support a causal relationship.