We describe two girls with atypical presentations of multisystem disorders due to deletions in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). One presented with painful carpopedal spasms due to hypoparathyroidism at the age of 4 years. The disease was rapidly progressive with development of truncal and limb ataxia, spastic paraparesis, muscle weakness and wasting, pigmentary retinal degeneration and sensorineural hearing loss. She had short stature and vitiligo patches, hirsutism, anaemia, diabetes mellitus and exocrine pancreatic dysfunction. The other girl presented at the age of 6 years with polydipsia, polyuria and fatigue due to renal tubular dysfunction. The disease was insidiously progressive with poor growth and development of sensorineural hearing loss, muscle weakness and truncal and limb ataxia. Morphological, enzyme histochemical and biochemical investigations indicated mitochondrial dysfunction of skeletal muscle, liver and kidney in one patient and of skeletal muscle and liver in the other. Both patients had large proportions of mtDNA molecules with deletion in liver, kidney, skeletal muscle and blood cells.
Conclusion: It may be concluded that symptoms from several different organs may be the first manifestation of a mtDNA deletion disorder.