Clinical and magnetic resonance imaging findings in patients with Leigh syndrome and SURF1 mutations

Brain Dev. 2014 Oct;36(9):807-12. doi: 10.1016/j.braindev.2013.10.012. Epub 2013 Nov 18.


Background: Mutation in the SURF1 is one of the most common nuclear mutations associated with Leigh syndrome and cytochrome c oxidase deficiency. This study aims to describe the phenotypic and imaging features in four patients with Leigh syndrome and novel SURF1 mutation.

Methods: The study included four patients with Leigh syndrome and SURF1 mutations identified from a cohort of 25 children with Leigh syndrome seen over a period of six years (2006-2012). All the patients underwent a detailed neurological assessment, muscle biopsy, and sequencing of the complete mitochondrial genome and SURF1.

Results: Three patients had classical presentation of Leigh syndrome. The fourth patient had a later age of onset with ataxia as the presenting manifestation and a stable course. Hypertrichosis, facial dysmorphism and hypopigmentation were the additional phenotypic features noted. On magnetic resonance imaging all patients had brainstem and cerebellar involvement and two had basal ganglia involvement in addition. The bilateral symmetrical hypertrophic olivary degeneration in these patients was striking. The SURF1 analysis identified previously unreported mutations in all the patients. On follow-up three patients expired and one had a stable course.

Conclusions: Patients with Leigh syndrome and SURF1 mutation often have skin and hair abnormalities. Bilateral symmetrical hypertrophic olivary degeneration was a consistent finding on magnetic resonance imaging in these patients.

Keywords: COX deficiency; Dentate nucleus; Inferior olivary nucleus; Leigh syndrome; SURF1 mutation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hair / abnormalities
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Leigh Disease / diagnosis
  • Leigh Disease / epidemiology*
  • Leigh Disease / genetics
  • Leigh Disease / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Skin Abnormalities / diagnosis
  • Skin Abnormalities / epidemiology
  • Skin Abnormalities / genetics
  • Skin Abnormalities / pathology


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Surf-1 protein