Indexed on: 28 Nov '09Published on: 28 Nov '09Published in: Revue Neurologique
Involvement of peripheral nerves is frequent in mitochondrial disorders but with variable severity. Mitochondrial diseases causing peripheral neuropathies (PN) may be due to mutations of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), as is the case in MERRF and MELAS syndromes, or to mutations of nuclear genes. Secondary abnormalities of mtDNA (such as multiple deletions of muscle mtDNA) may result from mitochondrial disorders due to mutations in nuclear genes involved in mtDNA maintenance. This is the case in several syndromes caused by impaired mtDNA maintenance, such as Sensory Ataxic Neuropathy, Dysarthria and Ophthalmoplegia (SANDO) due to recessive mutations in the POLG gene, which encodes the catalytic subunit of mtDNA polymerase (DNA polymerase gamma), or Mitochondrial Neuro-Gastro-Intestinal Encephalomyopathy (MNGIE), due to recessive mutations in the TYMP gene, which encodes thymidine phosphorylase. Genetically-determined PN due to mutations of mitofusin 2, a GTPase involved in the fusion of external mitochondrial membranes, were identified during the last few years. Characteristic ultrastructural lesions (abnormalities of axonal mitochondria) are observed on longitudinal sections of nerve biopsies in patients with PN due to mitofusin 2 mutations.