Congenital cataract as the first symptom of a neuromuscular disease caused by a novel single large-scale mitochondrial DNA deletion

Eur J Hum Genet. 2003 May;11(5):375-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejhg.5200975.


The male proband reported here was born with appropriate anthropometric parameters at term as the second child of healthy nonconsanguineous parents. His only clinical symptom was bilateral congenital cataracts with strabismus at birth, and both lenses were removed surgically at the age of 8 months. The perinatal and infantile period thereafter was clinically uneventful and his psychomotor development appeared almost normal. At the age of 6 years he was hospitalized for slight muscle weakness, minor ptosis, nystagmus and decreased physical activity. Soon after, his general condition worsened, gait ataxia presented, dysphagia and difficulty of speech followed by rapidly progressive generalized ataxia, and myopathy developed. Typical progressive gray matter degeneration with focal necrosis in the basal ganglia characteristic of the Leigh type of neuropathology could be detected by cranial MRI, the muscle histology showed ragged-red fibers. At the age of 7.5 years, unexpected left side hemiparesis with speech disability resembling that seen in MELAS syndrome developed, from which he recovered within 1.5 days. The mtDNA of the patient showed single 6.7 kb large-scale deletion harboring between 7817 and 14 536 bp. This case represents the first report of a verified mtDNA mutation associated with congenital cataracts as the first clinical sign of a later developing progressive neuromuscular disease presented with a combination of Leigh neuropathology, ragged-red fiber histopathology and stroke-like attack.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cataract / genetics*
  • Child
  • DNA, Mitochondrial*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / genetics*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Sequence Deletion*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial