Indexed on: 26 Sep '01Published on: 26 Sep '01Published in: Neuropediatrics
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) disorders are clinically very heterogeneous, ranging from single organ involvement to severe multisystem disease. One of the most frequently observed mtDNA mutations is the A-to-G transition at position 3243 of the tRNA(Leu (UUR)) gene. This mutation is often related to MELAS syndrome. However, not all patients with the A3243G mutation share the same clinical disease expression and, on the contrary, patients clinically exhibiting MELAS syndrome may have other mtDNA mutations. Here we describe two patients with a very early infantile presentation of disease associated with the A3243G mutation. Patient 1 presented with hypotonia, feeding difficulties and failure to thrive (FTT) at the age of 3 months. Laboratory investigations showed persistent hyperlactic acidemia, elevated lactate/pyruvate ratios and elevated alanine concentrations in blood. Developmental delay was progressive and he developed cardiomyopathy and seizures. Death occurred at the age of 3.5 years. Patient 2 was born prematurely and had persistent, severe lactic acidosis from birth on. Moderate biventricular hypertrophy was seen on ultrasound studies of the heart and, suffering from progressive lactic acidosis, he died at the age of 13 days. Because of the rarity of this very early presentation, we searched the literature for other infantile cases associated with the A3243G mutation and found 8 additional ones. In infants presenting with lactic acidosis/hyperlactic acidemia, failure to thrive, hypotonia, seizures and/or cardiomyopathy, mtDNA mutational analysis, also for the disease entities, usually only observed in juveniles or adults is warranted.