Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE)-like phenotype: an expanded clinical spectrum of POLG1 mutations

J Neurol. 2012 May;259(5):862-8. doi: 10.1007/s00415-011-6268-6. Epub 2011 Oct 13.


The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of MNGIE-like phenotype in patients with recessive POLG1 mutations. Mutations in the POLG1 gene, which encodes for the catalytic subunit of the mitochondrial DNA polymerase gamma essential for mitochondrial DNA replication, cause a wide spectrum of mitochondrial disorders. Common phenotypes associated with POLG1 mutations include Alpers syndrome, ataxia-neuropathy syndrome, and progressive external ophthalmoplegia (PEO). Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by severe gastrointestinal dysmotility, cachexia, PEO and/or ptosis, peripheral neuropathy, and leukoencephalopathy. MNGIE is caused by TYMP mutations. Rare cases of MNGIE-like phenotype have been linked to RRM2B mutations. Recently, POLG1 mutations were identified in a family with clinical features of MNGIE but no leukoencephalopathy. The coding regions and exon-intron boundaries of POLG1 were sequence analyzed in patients suspected of POLG1 related disorders. Clinical features of 92 unrelated patients with two pathogenic POLG1 alleles were carefully reviewed. Three patients, accounting for 3.3% of all patients with two pathogenic POLG1 mutations, were found to have clinical features consistent with MNGIE but no leukoencephalopathy. Patient 1 carries p.W748S and p.R953C; patient 2 is homozygous for p.W748S, and patient 3 is homozygous for p.A467T. In addition, patient 2 has a similarly affected sibling with the same POLG1 genotype. POLG1 mutations may cause MNGIE-like syndrome, but the lack of leukoencephalopathy and the normal plasma thymidine favor POLG1 mutations as responsible molecular defect.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / pathology
  • DNA Polymerase gamma
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / complications
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathies / complications
  • Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathies / genetics*
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Phenotype


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • DNA Polymerase gamma
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • POLG protein, human