Early cardiac involvement in children carrying the A3243G mtDNA mutation

Acta Paediatr. 2007 Mar;96(3):450-1. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2006.00158.x.


The phenotypic spectrum of the mitochondrial A3243G DKA mutation is highly variable, particularly when occuring in childhood. In contrast to the classical presentation in adulthood (MELAS syndrome; mitochondria! myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes) children show a different pattern of symptoms, often without the typical encephalopathy or psychomotor regression. We present six children carrying the A3243G mtDNA mutation with a heteroplasmy above 50 % in muscle tissue. The age of diagnosis ranged from 2 weeks up to 14.5 years. The clinical presentation was rather non-specific including muscle weakness, developmental delay and epilepsy. In this small pediatric group we detected presymptomatic cardiac involvement in five out of six children already at an early stage of disease. The cardiac pathology included cardiomyopathy and biventricular hypertrophy with rhythm disturbances (for example long QT-syndrome). The observed cardiac changes do not always increase the risk of cardiac deterioration; however, two of our patients died early on.

Conclusion: We hypothesize that the A3243G mutation might be underdiagnosed, as patients could suffer from an unexplained cardiac death before the diagnosis is made. We advise performing regular repeated ECGs and echocardiography in all children carrying a A3243G mtDNA mutation independently from the presence of cardiac symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / genetics
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology*
  • Cardiomyopathies / genetics
  • Child
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / genetics*
  • Mitochondrial Myopathies / complications*
  • Mitochondrial Myopathies / genetics*