MELAS syndrome with mitochondrial tRNA(Leu)(UUR) mutation: correlation of clinical state, nerve conduction, and muscle 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy during treatment with nicotinamide and riboflavin

Neurology. 1992 Nov;42(11):2147-52. doi: 10.1212/wnl.42.11.2147.


We report a patient with mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and strokelike episodes treated with riboflavin and nicotinamide for 18 months, during which time previously frequent encephalopathic spells ceased. To confirm clinical benefit, we withdrew treatment and monitored response with muscle 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and sural nerve conduction studies. Of three prospectively chosen MRS variables, two changed coincidentally with clinical end points; phosphocreatine (PCr)/adenosine triphosphate recovery rates fell in parallel with sural nerve sensory amplitudes, and a drop in muscle bioenergetic efficiency (relationship of inorganic phosphate/PCr to the accelerating force of contracting muscle) coincided with development of encephalopathy. Investigations revealed a deficiency of respiratory complex I and mutation of the mitochondrial tRNA(Leu)(UUR). We suggest that a defective cellular energy state in mitochondrial disease may be partially treatable and that changes seen in appropriate muscle spectroscopy studies may parallel improvement in brain and peripheral nerve function.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • MELAS Syndrome / drug therapy
  • MELAS Syndrome / genetics*
  • MELAS Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / chemistry*
  • Muscles / drug effects
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Mutation*
  • Neural Conduction / physiology
  • Niacinamide / therapeutic use
  • Phosphates / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer, Leu / genetics*
  • Riboflavin / therapeutic use


  • Phosphates
  • RNA, Transfer, Leu
  • Niacinamide
  • Riboflavin