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Semin Neurol. 1996 Mar;16(1):11-20.

Clinical spectrum of mitochondrial diseases.

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Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Mitochondrial diseases include myopathies and multisystem disorders. They are characterized by morphologic and biochemical abnormalities of mitochondria. Their genetic characteristics-maternal inheritance, heteroplasmy, mitotic segregation, and threshold effect-are unique. The clinical phenotypes are considerably heterogeneous, but the clinical presentation in many cases is characteristic or suggestive. We review the clinical features of the most prevalent mitochondrial encephalomyopathy syndromes, their molecular genetic basis, isolated clinical symptoms, and uncommon presentations. Molecular genetic diagnosis is available for the common syndromes and has revolutionized their diagnosis. Future therapeutic advances, based on the precise genetic etiology, are anticipated. Mitochondrial dysfunction may be a more frequent pathogenetic mechanism than the prevalence of the classic mitochondrial syndromes would indicate, as there is an association between the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA mutations in postmitotic tissues and neurologic and systemic degenerative diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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