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Neuropediatrics. 2004 Aug;35(4):217-23.

Mitochondrial DNA depletion in Alpers syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics and Center for Integrated Genomics, Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.


Mitochondrial dysfunction of the energy generating system was suggested in two infants with progressive infantile poliodystrophy characterised by hypotonia, refractory epilepsy, visual impairment, psychomotor retardation, profound brain atrophy, hepatopathy, and increased levels of lactate in blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Histochemical and electron microscopic analyses of liver biopsies revealed cytochrome c oxidase deficiency, microvesicular steatosis, and enormous multiplication of mitochondria of various sizes. In the first patient, the quantitative Southern blot analyses in tissues obtained at autopsy demonstrated reduced content of mtDNA in the liver, brain, and fibroblasts (11 %, 15 %, and 25 % of the mean values in controls) while a normal content of mtDNA was found in muscle and heart. In the second patient, a reduced content of mtDNA was found in the muscle, liver, and brain (15 %, 10 %, and 30 %, respectively, of the mean values in controls). Biochemical studies in the first patient revealed decreased activities of all respiratory chain complexes except complex II in isolated liver mitochondria and decreased amounts of respiratory chain complexes I, III, IV and ATP synthase in liver and frontal cortex, but not in muscle, heart, and fibroblasts. In conclusions, mtDNA depletion associated with Alpers syndrome may be tissue specific.

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