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J Neurol Sci. 1983 Jul;60(1):31-53.

A partial deficiency of cytochrome c oxidase in chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia.


A partial deficiency of cytochrome oxidase has been found in 7 patients with chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia and proximal myopathy or craniosomatic abnormalities. Muscle biopsies from all these patients showed morphological mitochondrial abnormalities ("ragged red" fibres) and cytochemical assay of cytochrome oxidase showed that these fibres contained no demonstrable enzyme activity. The incidence of cytochrome oxidase-negative fibres was greater than that of "ragged-red" fibres suggesting that the enzyme defect preceded the development of morphological mitochondrial changes. Biochemical analysis of skeletal muscle mitochondrial fractions from 3 patients revealed in 1 case a significantly lower concentration of cytochrome aa3 and a decreased ratio of cytochrome oxidase/succinate-cytochrome c reductase. Fasting blood metabolites were elevated in 2 patients. We suggest that partial cytochrome oxidase deficiency is the underlying defect in mitochondrial myopathy associated with the oculocraniosomatic syndromes.

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