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Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol. 2011 Jan;18(1):17-23. doi: 10.4103/0974-9233.75880.

Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy: The Mitochondrial Connection Revisited.

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1
Department of Ophthalmology, Ophthalmic Genetics Laboratory, College of Medicine, King Saud University, P. O. Box 245, Riyadh 11411, Saudi Arabia.

Abstract

Our current understanding of Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON)-mitochondrial connection falls short of comprehensive. Twenty years of intensive investigation have yielded a wealth of information about mitochondria, the mitochondrial genome, the metabolism of the optic nerve and other structures, and the phenotypic variability of classic LHON. However, we still cannot completely explain how primary LHON mutations injure the optic nerve or why the optic nerve is particularly at risk. We cannot explain the incomplete penetrance or the male predominance of LHON, the typical onset in young adult life without warning, or the synchronicity of visual loss. Moreover, primary LHON mutations clearly are not present in every family with the LHON phenotype (including multigenerational maternal inheritance), and they are present in only a minority of individuals who have the LHON optic neuropathy phenotype without a family history. All lines of evidence point to abnormalities of the mitochondria as the direct or indirect cause of LHON. Therefore, the mitochondria-LHON connection needs to be revisited and examined closely. This review will attempt to do that and provide an update on various aspects of LHON.

KEYWORDS:

Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy; Mitochondrial DNA; Optic Neuropathy

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