Muscle MRI characteristic pattern for late-onset TK2 deficiency diagnosis

J Neurol. 2022 Jul;269(7):3550-3562. doi: 10.1007/s00415-021-10957-0. Epub 2022 Mar 14.


Background and objective: TK2 deficiency (TK2d) is a rare mitochondrial disorder that manifests predominantly as a progressive myopathy with a broad spectrum of severity and age of onset. The rate of progression is variable, and the prognosis is poor due to early and severe respiratory involvement. Early and accurate diagnosis is particularly important since a specific treatment is under development. This study aims to evaluate the diagnostic value of lower limb muscle MRI in adult patients with TK2d.

Methods: We studied a cohort of 45 genetically confirmed patients with mitochondrial myopathy (16 with mutations in TK2, 9 with mutations in other nuclear genes involved in mitochondrial DNA [mtDNA] synthesis or maintenance, 10 with single mtDNA deletions, and 10 with point mtDNA mutations) to analyze the imaging pattern of fat replacement in lower limb muscles. We compared the identified pattern in patients with TK2d with the MRI pattern of other non-mitochondrial genetic myopathies that share similar clinical characteristics.

Results: We found a consistent lower limb muscle MRI pattern in patients with TK2d characterized by involvement of the gluteus maximus, gastrocnemius medialis, and sartorius muscles. The identified pattern in TK2 patients differs from the known radiological involvement of other resembling muscle dystrophies that share clinical features.

Conclusions: By analyzing the largest cohort of muscle MRI from patients with mitochondrial myopathies studied to date, we identified a characteristic and specific radiological pattern of muscle involvement in patients with TK2d that could be useful to speed up its diagnosis.

Keywords: MRI; Mitochondrial myopathy; TK2.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mitochondrial Myopathies* / diagnostic imaging
  • Mitochondrial Myopathies* / genetics
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscular Diseases* / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscular Diseases* / genetics


  • DNA, Mitochondrial