Background: The triad of progressive external ophthalmoplegia, atypical retinal pigmentation and cardiac conduction defects characterizes Kearns-Sayre syndrome (KSS), which is most often caused by a single, large deletion of mitochondrial DNA. Endocrine disease appears to be more common in KSS than in other mitochondrial diseases.
Materials, methods and results: A patient presenting with KSS developed Addison's disease, hypothyroidism and glucose intolerance. Thyroid peroxidase antibodies and adrenal 21-hydroxylase antibodies were identified. She developed acute respiratory failure requiring invasive ventilatory support, but improved and currently requires only non-invasive, nocturnal BiPAP treatment.
Discussion and conclusion: This case confirms the association of KSS and endocrine dysfunction. Our finding of autoantibodies to thyroid and adrenal glands distinguishes this patient from most other published cases and suggests a potential synergy between the two disease mechanisms. In addition, we demonstrate that respiratory failure can be a treatable event in this disease.