Progressive myoclonus epilepsies: an electroclinical, biochemical, morphological and molecular genetic study of 17 cases

Acta Neurol Scand. 1993 Mar;87(3):219-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.1993.tb04105.x.


Electroclinical, morphological, biochemical and molecular genetic data from 17 patients affected by progressive myoclonus epilepsies (PME) are reported. Twelve patients were characterized by prominent action myoclonus, sporadic seizures, mild ataxia, lack of dementia and persistence of normal EEG background activity; three patients showed a more rapid worsening of symptomatology, characterized by early mental impairment, massive and action myoclonus, cerebellar signs and tonic clonic seizures; in these patients EEG background activity was slow, even in early stages of the disease. In two patients, previously classified as cryptogenetic PME, a mitochondrial aetiology was recognized by the presence of ragged red fibers in muscle biopsy and by a reduction of the respiratory chains enzymes. Molecular genetical investigation of mtDNA demonstrated the reported heteroplasmic point mutation at nt 8344 of mtDNA in the two MERRF patients, while it was negative in all of the others.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Child
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Epilepsies, Myoclonic / genetics
  • Epilepsies, Myoclonic / pathology
  • Epilepsies, Myoclonic / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • MERRF Syndrome / genetics
  • MERRF Syndrome / pathology
  • MERRF Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Muscles / pathology
  • Myoclonic Cerebellar Dyssynergia / genetics
  • Myoclonic Cerebellar Dyssynergia / pathology
  • Myoclonic Cerebellar Dyssynergia / physiopathology
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Point Mutation
  • Synaptic Transmission / genetics
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial