Prerequisites and strategies for prenatal diagnosis of respiratory chain deficiency in chorionic villi

J Inherit Metab Dis. 2003;26(7):647-58. doi: 10.1023/b:boli.0000005605.57420.b4.


Prenatal diagnosis for respiratory chain deficiencies is a complex procedure that requires a thorough diagnostic work-up of the index patient. This includes confirmation of the clinical and metabolic evaluations through histological and enzymatic examinations of tissue biopsies. Prenatal diagnosis currently relies on biochemical assays of respiratory chain complexes in chorionic villi or amniocytes and is possible by mutation analysis of nuclear genes in a limited but increasing proportion of cases. Based on a recent survey of prenatal diagnosis in families with complex I and complex IV deficiencies, performed at Nijmegen Centre for Mitochondrial Disorders (NCMD), prerequisites and strategies for performing prenatal diagnosis have been developed to increase reliability. Biochemical investigations in chorionic villi can be done reliably if the respiratory chain enzyme deficiency is expressed in both skeletal muscle and skin fibroblasts to rule out tissue specificity. No mitochondrial DNA defects must be suspected or established. The NCMD does not offer prenatal diagnosis until all the prerequisites have been confirmed. We expect prenatal diagnosis at the molecular level to become more feasible in time as the mutational spectrum broadens with advances in medical research.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chorionic Villi / metabolism
  • Chorionic Villi Sampling / methods*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / genetics
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial