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Can J Neurol Sci. 2011 Jan;38(1):119-23.

Multisystem disorder in late-onset chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia.

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  • 1Division of Neurology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.



Chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia (CPEO) is a mitochondrial syndrome on a disease spectrum with Kearns-Sayre syndrome (KSS). Clinical presentation is variable and our experience suggested that phenotypic differences exist in CPEO with onset after age 20.


This descriptive study is a retrospective chart review of 40 patients with late-onset CPEO. Clinical features, laboratory and neurophysiology results were reviewed.


Multisystem dysfunction was very common in this series. Gastrointestinal dysfunction was more common than expected (60%) as was migraine headache (40%). Clinical characteristics on the KSS disease spectrum were uncommon in this series with only 2.5% having pigmentary retinopathy, 5% with cardiac conduction abnormality, and 22.5% having endocrinopathy (most often thyroid dysfunction rather than diabetes). Neurophysiology abnormalities included length-dependent axonal polyneuropathy in 44% (sometimes subclinical) and myopathic EMG changes in 26%. Exposure to sources of acquired mitochondrial toxicity including cigarette use and hepatitis C infection were more common than expected in this series.


Phenotype was different in this late-onset series compared with previous reports in CPEO patients. In this series of late-onset patients, multi-organ dysfunction was more common than previously reported in CPEO, and some classical mitochondrial manifestations, such as pigmentary retinopathy were rare. We suggest that acquired mitochondrial toxicity may have a role in the pathogenesis of adult-onset CPEO.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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