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Ann Neurol. 1993 Dec;34(6):827-34.

The mutation at nt 8993 of mitochondrial DNA is a common cause of Leigh's syndrome.

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  • 1H. Houston Merritt Clinical Research Center for Muscular Dystrophy and Related Diseases, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, NY.


Twelve patients with Leigh's syndrome from 10 families harbored a T > G point mutation at nt 8993 of mtDNA. This mutation, initially associated with neurogenic weakness, ataxia, and retinitis pigmentosa, was later found to result in the Leigh phenotype when present in a high percentage. In our patients, the mutation was heteroplasmic, maternally inherited, and appeared to segregate rapidly within the pedigrees. Quantitative analysis revealed a good correlation between percentage of mutant mitochondrial genomes and severity of the clinical phenotype. The mutation was not found in > 200 patients with other mitochondrial encephalomyopathies or in controls. Mitochondrial enzyme activities were normal in all but 1 patient, and there were no ragged-red fibers in the muscle biopsy. Lactic acidosis was present in 92% of patients. Our findings suggest that the mtDNA nt 8993 mutation is a relatively common cause of Leigh's syndrome.

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