Serial diffusion-weighted imaging in MELAS

Neuroradiology. 2000 Sep;42(9):651-6. doi: 10.1007/s002340000335.


Clinical features of mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes (MELAS) resemble those of cerebral infarcts, but the pathogenesis of infarct-like lesions is not fully understood. To characterise these infarct-like lesions, we studied two patients with MELAS using diffusion-weighted (DWI) MRI before and after stroke-like episodes and measured the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) in the new infarct-like lesions. These gave high signal on DWI and had much higher ADC than normal-appearing regions. The ADC remained high even 30 days after a stroke-like episode then decreased in lesions, with or without abnormality as shown by conventional MRI. We speculate that early elevation of ADC in the acute or subacute phase reflects vasogenic rather than cytotoxic edema. The ADC of the lesions, which disappeared almost completely with clinical improvement, returned to normal levels, which may reflect tissue recovery without severe damage. To our knowledge, this is the first study of DWI in MELAS.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Echo-Planar Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Lactic Acid / cerebrospinal fluid
  • MELAS Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • MELAS Syndrome / genetics
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / enzymology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Pyruvic Acid / blood
  • Pyruvic Acid / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / metabolism


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Lactic Acid
  • Pyruvic Acid
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase