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Central nervous system manifestations of mitochondrial disorders

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Finsterer J. Central nervous system manifestations of mitochondrial disorders.

Acta Neurol Scand 2006: 114: 217–238.

© 2006 The Author Journal compilation 2006 Blackwell Munksgaard.

The central nervous system (CNS) is, after the peripheral nervous system, the second most frequently affected organ in mitochondrial disorders (MCDs). CNS involvement in MCDs is clinically heterogeneous, manifesting as epilepsy, stroke-like episodes, migraine, ataxia, spasticity, extrapyramidal abnormalities, bulbar dysfunction, psychiatric abnormalities, neuropsychological deficits, or hypophysial abnormalities. CNS involvement is found in syndromic and non-syndromic MCDs. Syndromic MCDs with CNS involvement include mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactacidosis, stroke-like episodes syndrome, myoclonic epilepsy and ragged red fibers syndrome, mitochondrial neuro-gastrointestinal encephalomyopathy syndrome, neurogenic muscle weakness, ataxia, and retinitis pigmentosa syndrome, mitochondrial depletion syndrome, Kearns-Sayre syndrome, and Leigh syndrome, Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy, Friedreich's ataxia, and multiple systemic lipomatosis. As CNS involvement is often subclinical, the CNS including the spinal cord should be investigated even in the absence of overt clinical CNS manifestations. CNS investigations comprise the history, clinical neurological examination, neuropsychological tests, electroencephalogram, cerebral computed tomography scan, and magnetic resonance imaging. A spinal tap is indicated if there is episodic or permanent impaired consciousness or in case of cognitive decline. More sophisticated methods are required if the CNS is solely affected. Treatment of CNS manifestations in MCDs is symptomatic and focused on epilepsy, headache, lactacidosis, impaired consciousness, confusion, spasticity, extrapyramidal abnormalities, or depression. Valproate, carbamazepine, corticosteroids, acetyl salicylic acid, local and volatile anesthetics should be applied with caution. Avoiding certain drugs is often more beneficial than application of established, apparently indicated drugs.
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Keywords: brain; cerebrum; encephalomyopathy; mitochondrial cytopathy; mitochondriopathy; multi-system disease; oxidative phosphorylation; respiratory chain; spinal cord

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2006

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