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Pediatr Nephrol. 2014 Nov;29(11):2139-46. doi: 10.1007/s00467-014-2847-y. Epub 2014 May 28.

Methylmalonic acidemia: a megamitochondrial disorder affecting the kidney.

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Molecular Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center-Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA,



Classical (or isolated) methylmalonic acidemia (MMA) is a heterogeneous inborn error of metabolism most typically caused by mutations in the vitamin B12-dependent enzyme methylmalonyl-CoA mutase (MUT). With the improved survival of individuals with MMA, chronic kidney disease has become recognized as part of the disorder. The precise description of renal pathology in MMA remains uncertain.


Light microscopy, histochemical, and ultrastructural studies were performed on the native kidney obtained from a 19-year-old patient with mut MMA who developed end stage renal disease and underwent a combined liver-kidney transplantation.


The light microscopy study of the renal parenchyma in the MMA kidney revealed extensive interstitial fibrosis, chronic inflammation, and tubular atrophy. Intact proximal tubules were distinguished by the widespread formation of large, circular, pale mitochondria with diminished cristae. Histochemical preparations showed a reduction of cytochrome c oxidase and NADH activities, and the electron microscopy analysis demonstrated loss of cytochrome c enzyme activity in these enlarged mitochondria.


Our results demonstrate that the renal pathology of MMA is characterized by megamitochondria formation in the proximal tubules in concert with electron transport chain dysfunction. Our findings suggest therapies that target mitochondrial function as a treatment for the chronic kidney disease of MMA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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