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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Familial occurrence of intestinal obstruction in children with the syndrome of mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS).

The syndrome of mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS) is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder caused by mitochondrial dysfunctions that result in headaches, seizures, and progressive dementia. The authors describe a clinical case study of gastrointestinal manifestations in a pedigree with MELAS, in which all three children, ages 11, 8, and 6, demonstrated acute onset of intestinal obstruction. They unexpectedly showed severe abdominal distension and vomiting. Their parents had no clinical manifestation. The first female sibling underwent an emergent laparotomy because she was diagnosed to have intestinal strangulation. She had postoperative complications caused by progressive lactic acidosis and died the next day. The second and third sisters had similar onsets of the disease and were treated with gastrointestinal decompression and intravenous administration of lactate-free fluid and coenzyme Q10. Genetic testing using blood samples showed an A-to-G point mutation at nucleotide position 3243 in the tRNALeu(UUR) region in the mitochondrial DNA. In MELAS children who demonstrate acute onset of gastrointestinal manifestations, a careful review of family history and an elevation of serum lactate and pyruvate levels may enable a differential diagnosis to be made of acute abdomen to avoid unnecessary surgical intervention.[1]


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