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Altmann, Judith; Büchner, Boriana; Nadaj-Pakleza, Aleksandra; Schäfer, Jochen; Jackson, Sandra; Lehmann, Diana; Deschauer, Marcus; Kopajtich, Robert; Lautenschläger, Ronald; Kuhn, Klaus A.; Karle, Kathrin; Schöls, Ludger; Schulz, Jörg B.; Weis, Joachim; Prokisch, Holger; Kornblum, Cornelia; Claeys, Kristl G.; Klopstock, Thomas (2016): Expanded phenotypic spectrum of the m.8344A > G "MERRF" mutation: data from the German mitoNET registry. In: Journal of Neurology, Vol. 263, No. 5: pp. 961-972
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Abstract

The m.8344A > G mutation in the MTTK gene, which encodes the mitochondrial transfer RNA for lysine, is traditionally associated with myoclonic epilepsy and ragged-red fibres (MERRF), a multisystemic mitochondrial disease that is characterised by myoclonus, seizures, cerebellar ataxia, and mitochondrial myopathy with ragged-red fibres. We studied the clinical and paraclinical phenotype of 34 patients with the m.8344A > G mutation, mainly derived from the nationwide mitoREGISTER, the multicentric registry of the German network for mitochondrial disorders (mitoNET). Mean age at symptom onset was 24.5 years +/- 10.9 (6-48 years) with adult onset in 75 % of the patients. In our cohort, the canonical features seizures, myoclonus, cerebellar ataxia and ragged-red fibres that are traditionally associated with MERRF, occurred in only 61, 59, 70, and 63 % of the patients, respectively. In contrast, other features such as hearing impairment were even more frequently present (72 %). Other common features in our cohort were migraine (52 %), psychiatric disorders (54 %), respiratory dysfunction (45 %), gastrointestinal symptoms (38 %), dysarthria (36 %), and dysphagia (35 %). Brain MRI revealed cerebral and/or cerebellar atrophy in 43 % of our patients. There was no correlation between the heteroplasmy level in blood and age at onset or clinical phenotype. Our findings further broaden the clinical spectrum of the m.8344A > G mutation, document the large clinical variability between carriers of the same mutation, even within families and indicate an overlap of the phenotype with other mitochondrial DNA-associated syndromes.