How can we treat mitochondrial encephalomyopathies? Approaches to therapy

Neurotherapeutics. 2008 Oct;5(4):558-68. doi: 10.1016/j.nurt.2008.07.002.


Mitochondrial disorders are a heterogeneous group of diseases affecting different organs (brain, muscle, liver, and heart), and the severity of the disease is highly variable. The chronicity and heterogeneity, both clinically and genetically, means that many patients require surveillance follow-up over their lifetime, often involving multiple disciplines. Although our understanding of the genetic defects and their pathological impact underlying mitochondrial diseases has increased over the past decade, this has not been paralleled with regards to treatment. Currently, no definitive pharmacological treatment exists for patients with mitochondrial dysfunction, except for patients with primary deficiency of coenzyme Q10. Pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments increasingly being investigated include ketogenic diet, exercise, and gene therapy. Management is aimed primarily at minimizing disability, preventing complications, and providing prognostic information and genetic counseling based on current best practice. Here, we evaluate therapies used previously and review current and future treatment modalities for both adults and children with mitochondrial disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathies / drug therapy
  • Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathies / epidemiology
  • Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathies / pathology
  • Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathies / therapy*
  • Nootropic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Organ Transplantation


  • Nootropic Agents