Alterations of oligodendrocytes and demyelination in the spinal cord of patients with mitochondrial encephalomyopathy

J Neurol Sci. 1988 Aug;86(1):19-29. doi: 10.1016/0022-510x(88)90004-4.


The spinal cords of 2 autopsied patients with mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes (MELAS) were examined. Histologically, the spinal cords showed a spongy state due to the presence of distended myelinated fibers with enlarged periaxonal spaces. Ultrastructurally, the affected fibers showed extensive microvacuolation of the inner myelin sheath with occasional vesicular changes. The presence of macrophages near the degenerated myelin was a frequent finding. The stripping of myelin lamellae by macrophage was observed, with frequent appearance of denuded axons. Furthermore, prominent morphological changes were observed in oligodendrocytes. These findings indicate that demyelination, probably secondary to the degeneration of oligodendrocytes, occurs in the spinal cord of MELAS.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Diseases / pathology*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neuroglia / ultrastructure*
  • Oligodendroglia / ultrastructure*
  • Spinal Cord / ultrastructure*
  • Vacuoles / ultrastructure