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1.  A multicenter study on Leigh syndrome: disease course and predictors of survival 
Leigh syndrome is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, associated with primary or secondary dysfunction of the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Despite the fact that Leigh syndrome is the most common phenotype of mitochondrial disorders in children, longitudinal natural history data is missing. This study was undertaken to assess the phenotypic and genotypic spectrum of patients with Leigh syndrome, characterise the clinical course and identify predictors of survival in a large cohort of patients.
This is a retrospective study of patients with Leigh syndrome that have been followed at eight centers specialising in mitochondrial diseases in Europe; Gothenburg, Rotterdam, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Brussels, Bergen and Oulu.
A total of 130 patients were included (78 males; 52 females), of whom 77 patients had identified pathogenic mutations. The median age of disease onset was 7 months, with 80.8% of patients presenting by the age of 2 years. The most common clinical features were abnormal motor findings, followed by abnormal ocular findings. Epileptic seizures were reported in 40% of patients. Approximately 44% of patients experienced acute exacerbations requiring hospitalisation during the previous year, mainly due to infections. The presence of pathological signs at birth and a history of epileptic seizures were associated with higher occurrence of acute exacerbations and/or relapses. Increased lactate in the cerebrospinal fluid was significantly correlated to a more severe disease course, characterised by early onset before 6 months of age, acute exacerbations and/or relapses, as well as brainstem involvement. 39% of patients had died by the age of 21 years, at a median age of 2.4 years. Disease onset before 6 months of age, failure to thrive, brainstem lesions on neuroimaging and intensive care treatment were significantly associated with poorer survival.
This is a multicenter study performed in a large cohort of patients with Leigh syndrome. Our data help define the natural history of Leigh syndrome and identify novel predictors of disease severity and long-term prognosis.
PMCID: PMC4021638  PMID: 24731534
Leigh syndrome; Natural history; Survival; Relapse; Prognosis; Diagnostic criteria
2.  Clinical, biochemical, cellular and molecular characterization of mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome due to novel mutations in the MPV17 gene 
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndromes (MDS) are severe autosomal recessive disorders associated with decreased mtDNA copy number in clinically affected tissues. The hepatocerebral form (mtDNA depletion in liver and brain) has been associated with mutations in the POLG, PEO1 (Twinkle), DGUOK and MPV17 genes, the latter encoding a mitochondrial inner membrane protein of unknown function. The aims of this study were to clarify further the clinical, biochemical, cellular and molecular genetic features associated with MDS due to MPV17 gene mutations. We identified 12 pathogenic mutations in the MPV17 gene, of which 11 are novel, in 17 patients from 12 families. All patients manifested liver disease. Poor feeding, hypoglycaemia, raised serum lactate, hypotonia and faltering growth were common presenting features. mtDNA depletion in liver was demonstrated in all seven cases where liver tissue was available. Mosaic mtDNA depletion was found in primary fibroblasts by PicoGreen staining. These results confirm that MPV17 mutations are an important cause of hepatocerebral mtDNA depletion syndrome, and provide the first demonstration of mosaic mtDNA depletion in human MPV17 mutant fibroblast cultures. We found that a severe clinical phenotype was associated with profound tissue-specific mtDNA depletion in liver, and, in some cases, mosaic mtDNA depletion in fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC3895632  PMID: 23714749
MPV17; mitochondrial DNA depletion; hepatocerebral disease; neonatal liver disease
3.  POLG1 p.R722H mutation associated with multiple mtDNA deletions and a neurological phenotype 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:29.
The c.2447G>A (p.R722H) mutation in the gene POLG1 of the catalytic subunit of human mitochondrial polymerase gamma has been previously found in a few occasions but its pathogenicity has remained uncertain. We set out to ascertain its contribution to neuromuscular disease.
Probands from two families with probable mitochondrial disease were examined clinically, muscle and buccal epithelial DNA were analyzed for mtDNA deletions, and the POLG1, POLG2, ANT1 and Twinkle genes were sequenced.
An adult proband presented with progressive external ophthalmoplegia, sensorineural hearing impairment, diabetes mellitus, dysphagia, a limb myopathy and dementia. Brain MRI showed central and cortical atrophy, and 18F-deoxyglucose PET revealed reduced glucose uptake. Histochemical analysis of muscle disclosed ragged red fibers and cytochrome c oxidase-negative fibers. Electron microscopy showed subsarcolemmal aggregates of morphologically normal mitochondria. Multiple mtDNA deletions were found in the muscle, and sequencing of the POLG1 gene revealed a homozygous c.2447G>A (p.R722H) mutation. His two siblings were also homozygous with respect to the p.R722H mutation and presented with dementia and sensorineural hearing impairment. In another family the p.R722H mutation was found as compound heterozygosity with the common p.W748S mutation in two siblings with mental retardation, ptosis, epilepsy and psychiatric symptoms. The estimated carrier frequency of the p.R722H mutation was 1:135 in the Finnish population. No mutations in POLG2, ANT1 and Twinkle genes were found. Analysis of the POLG1 sequence by homology modeling supported the notion that the p.R722H mutation is pathogenic.
The recessive c.2447G>A (p.R722H) mutation in the linker region of the POLG1 gene is pathogenic for multiple mtDNA deletions in muscle and is associated with a late-onset neurological phenotype as a homozygous state. The onset of the disease can be earlier in compound heterozygotes.
PMCID: PMC2873323  PMID: 20438629
5.  Individuals with mutations in XPNPEP3, which encodes a mitochondrial protein, develop a nephronophthisis-like nephropathy  
The autosomal recessive kidney disease nephronophthisis (NPHP) constitutes the most frequent genetic cause of terminal renal failure in the first 3 decades of life. Ten causative genes (NPHP1–NPHP9 and NPHP11), whose products localize to the primary cilia-centrosome complex, support the unifying concept that cystic kidney diseases are “ciliopathies”. Using genome-wide homozygosity mapping, we report here what we believe to be a new locus (NPHP-like 1 [NPHPL1]) for an NPHP-like nephropathy. In 2 families with an NPHP-like phenotype, we detected homozygous frameshift and splice-site mutations, respectively, in the X-prolyl aminopeptidase 3 (XPNPEP3) gene. In contrast to all known NPHP proteins, XPNPEP3 localizes to mitochondria of renal cells. However, in vivo analyses also revealed a likely cilia-related function; suppression of zebrafish xpnpep3 phenocopied the developmental phenotypes of ciliopathy morphants, and this effect was rescued by human XPNPEP3 that was devoid of a mitochondrial localization signal. Consistent with a role for XPNPEP3 in ciliary function, several ciliary cystogenic proteins were found to be XPNPEP3 substrates, for which resistance to N-terminal proline cleavage resulted in attenuated protein function in vivo in zebrafish. Our data highlight an emerging link between mitochondria and ciliary dysfunction, and suggest that further understanding the enzymatic activity and substrates of XPNPEP3 will illuminate novel cystogenic pathways.
PMCID: PMC2827951  PMID: 20179356
6.  Prospective study of POLG mutations presenting in children with intractable epilepsy: Prevalence and clinical features 
Epilepsia  2013;54(6):1002-1011.
To assess the frequency and clinical features of childhood-onset intractable epilepsy caused by the most common mutations in the POLG gene, which encodes the catalytic subunit of mitochondrial DNA polymerase gamma.
Children presenting with nonsyndromic intractable epilepsy of unknown etiology but without documented liver dysfunction at presentation were eligible for this prospective, population-based study. Blood samples were analyzed for the three most common POLG mutations. If any of the three tested mutations were found, all the exons and the exon–intron boundaries of the POLG gene were sequenced. In addition, we retrospectively reviewed the notes of patients presenting with intractable epilepsy in which we had found POLG mutations. All available clinical data were collected by questionnaire and by reviewing the medical records.
Key Findings
We analyzed 213 blood DNA samples from patients fulfilling the inclusion criteria of the prospective study. Among these, five patients (2.3%) were found with one of the three common POLG mutations as homozygous or compound heterozygous states. In addition, three patients were retrospectively identified. Seven of the eight patients had either raised cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) lactate (n = 3) or brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) changes (n = 4) at presentation with intractable epilepsy. Three patients later developed liver dysfunction, progressing to fatal liver failure in two without previous treatment with sodium valproate (VPA). Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that one patient presented first with an autism spectrum disorder before seizures emerged.
Mutations in POLG are an important cause of early and juvenile onset nonsyndromic intractable epilepsy with highly variable associated manifestations including autistic features. This study emphasizes that genetic testing for POLG mutations in patients with nonsyndromic intractable epilepsies is very important for clinical diagnostics, genetic counseling, and treatment decisions because of the increased risk for VPA-induced liver failure in patients with POLG mutations. We recommend POLG gene testing for patients with intractable seizures and at least one elevated CSF lactate or suggestive brain MRI changes (predominantly abnormal T2-weighted thalamic signal) with or without status epilepticus, epilepsia partialis continua, or liver manifestations typical for Alpers disease, especially when the disease course is progressive.
PMCID: PMC3757309  PMID: 23448099
Metabolic diseases; Mitochondrial diseases; Genetic epilepsies; Children

Results 1-6 (6)