Although relatively common in children, severe acute lactic acidosis is rare in adults with mitochondrial myopathies. We report here three cases, aged 27, 32 and 32 years, who developed life-threatening metabolic crisis with severe lactic acidosis, requiring hospitalisation in intensive care unit. Plasma lactates were elevated 10 to 15 fold normal values, necessitating extra-renal dialysis. By contrast CK levels were moderately increased (3 to 5N). No triggering factor was identified, but retrospectively all patients reported long-lasting mild muscle fatigability and weakness before their acute metabolic crisis. All of them recovered after prolonged intensive care but resting lactate levels remained elevated. Muscle biopsy showed ragged-red and COX-negative fibers in two patients and mild lipidosis in the third one. Heteroplasmic pathogenic point mutations were detected in MT-TL1 (m.3280G>A;m.3258C>T) and MT-TK (m.8363A>G). Life-threatening lactic acidosis may thus be a major inaugural clinical manifestation in adults with mitochondrial myopathies. Prolonged intensive care may lead to a dramatic and sustained improvement and is mandatory in such cases.
Keywords: Critical care; Lactic acidosis; Mitochondrial disorders; Muscle disease; Status epilepticus.
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