Life-threatening lactic acidosis occurring in adults with mitochondrial disorders

Rev Neurol (Paris). 2019 Oct;175(9):564-567. doi: 10.1016/j.neurol.2018.12.004. Epub 2019 May 1.


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.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis, Lactic / diagnosis
  • Acidosis, Lactic / etiology*
  • Acidosis, Lactic / therapy*
  • Adult
  • Critical Care*
  • Critical Illness / therapy
  • Emergencies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / complications*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / diagnosis
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / pathology
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies