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Nervenarzt. 1994 Apr;65(4):258-63.

[MELAS syndrome. Clinical aspects, MRI, biochemistry and molecular genetics].

[Article in German]

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Zentrum für Neurologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Giessen.


MELAS is a mitochondrial cytopathy characterized by encephalopathy with stroke-like episodes and lactic acidosis. Most patients exhibit an A-G transition mutation at np 3243 of mitochondrial DNA (tRNA(Leu)(UUR)). We present a family of four in which the mutation was discovered in blood and in muscle mt DNA. Two patients had the classic MELAS syndrome with multiple stroke-like episodes. Some episodes were precipitated by metabolic stress. The remaining two patients had an oligosymptomatic disease with mild chronic encephalopathy, small stature and hearing loss. MRI was followed over a period of 4-8 years, during which the MELAS patients showed progression from nonspecific multifocal signal change to typical extensive cortico-subcortical parieto-occipital lesions and progressive cerebral atrophy. MRI in the oligosymptomatic cases was normal, or showed non-progressive cerebellar atrophy. Biochemical findings were non-specific, indicating increased mitochondrial volume in all cases, and a relatively complex IV defect in one case. All patients were treated with coenzyme Q with varying clinical response. The percentage of mutant mt DNA in blood and muscle did not correlate with clinical severity. Pathogenetic theories based on molecular genetics, and the therapeutic regimen in terms of the underlying biochemical concepts are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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