The many faces of paediatric mitochondrial disease on neuroimaging

Childs Nerv Syst. 2016 Nov;32(11):2077-2083. doi: 10.1007/s00381-016-3190-3. Epub 2016 Jul 23.


The knowledge about the genetic spectrum underlying paediatric mitochondrial diseases is rapidly growing. As a consequence, the range of neuroimaging findings associated with mitochondrial diseases became extremely broad. This has important implications for radiologists and clinicians involved in the care of these patients. Here, we provide a condensed overview of brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in children with genetically confirmed mitochondrial diseases. The neuroimaging spectrum ranges from classical Leigh syndrome with symmetrical lesions in basal ganglia and/or brain stem to structural abnormalities including cerebellar hypoplasia and corpus callosum dysgenesis. We highlight that, although some imaging patterns can be suggestive of a genetically defined mitochondrial syndrome, brain MRI-based candidate gene prioritization is only successful in a subset of patients.

Keywords: Leigh syndrome; Magnetic resonance imaging; Mitochondrial; OXPHOS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / pathology*
  • Neuroimaging