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Neurology. 1991 Jul;41(7):1053-9.

Dominantly inherited mitochondrial myopathy with multiple deletions of mitochondrial DNA: clinical, morphologic, and biochemical studies.

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  • 1Neurological Institute, Universit√† Cattolica, Rome, Italy.


We studied a large family with a dominantly inherited mitochondrial myopathy characterized by progressive external ophthalmoplegia, dysphagia, cataract, lactic acidosis, exercise intolerance, and early death. Morphologic studies of muscle biopsies suggested mitochondrial heteroplasmy and revealed ragged-red fibers and decreased histochemical reactions for cytochrome c oxidase and succinate dehydrogenase. Biochemistry showed a partial defect of cytochrome c oxidase and a mild generalized reduction of other mitochondrial enzymes requiring mitochondrial DNA-encoded subunits. Southern blot analysis and PCR amplification showed mitochondrial DNA deletions in muscle of all affected members, but not in lymphocytes or fibroblasts, suggesting a tissue-specific distribution. Deletions were multiple and seemed to increase with time and to correlate with the severity of the disease.

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