Objective: To describe a clinical syndrome of cerebellar ataxia associated with muscle coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) deficiency.
Background: Muscle CoQ10 deficiency has been reported only in a few patients with a mitochondrial encephalomyopathy characterized by 1) recurrent myoglobinuria; 2) brain involvement (seizures, ataxia, mental retardation), and 3) ragged-red fibers and lipid storage in the muscle biopsy.
Methods: Having found decreased CoQ10 levels in muscle from a patient with unclassified familial cerebellar ataxia, the authors measured CoQ10 in muscle biopsies from other patients in whom cerebellar ataxia could not be attributed to known genetic causes.
Results: The authors found muscle CoQ10 deficiency (26 to 35% of normal) in six patients with cerebellar ataxia, pyramidal signs, and seizures. All six patients responded to CoQ10 supplementation; strength increased, ataxia improved, and seizures became less frequent.
Conclusions: Primary CoQ10 deficiency is a potentially important cause of familial ataxia and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of this condition because CoQ10 administration seems to improve the clinical picture.