J Neuroophthalmol. 2023 Sep 4. doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000001984. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Establishing a molecular diagnosis of mitochondrial diseases due to pathogenic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variants can be difficult because of varying levels of tissue heteroplasmy, and identifying these variants is important for clinical management. Here, we present clinical and molecular findings in 8 adult patients with classical features of mitochondrial ophthalmologic and/or muscle disease and multiple mtDNA deletions isolated to muscle.
METHODS: The patients were identified via a retrospective review of patients seen in both a tertiary ophthalmology center and a genetics clinic with a clinical diagnosis of chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia, optic nerve abnormalities, and/or mitochondrial myopathy. Age at onset of symptoms ranged from 18 to 61 years. Ocular manifestations included bilateral optic neuropathy in one patient, bilateral optic disc cupping without optic neuropathy in 2 patients, ptosis in 4 patients, and ocular motility deficits in 2 patients. Five patients had generalized weakness.
RESULTS: Pathogenic variants in mtDNA were not found in the blood or buccal sample from any patient, but 7 of 8 patients had multiple mtDNA deletions identified in muscle tissue. One patient had a single mtDNA deletion identified in the muscle. Heteroplasmy was less than 15% for all of the identified deletions, with the exception of one deletion that had a heteroplasmy of 50%-60%. None of the patients were found to have a nuclear gene variant known to be associated with mitochondrial DNA maintenance.
CONCLUSIONS: mtDNA deletions were identified in adult patients with ophthalmologic and/or musle abnormalities and may underlie their clinical presentations.