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Leigh syndrome: an adult presentation of a paediatric disease
  1. Taylor Watson-Fargie1,
  2. Victoria Marshall1,
  3. Natasha E Fullerton2,
  4. Veronica Leach3,
  5. Daniela Pilz4,
  6. Charlotte V Y Hemingbrough5,
  7. Sila Hopton5,
  8. Robert W Taylor5,6,
  9. Yi S Ng5,6,
  10. Andrew Schaefer5,6,
  11. Gráinne S Gorman5,6,
  12. Maria Elena Farrugia1
  1. 1 Neurology, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2 Neuroradiology, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3 Neurophysiology, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Glasgow, UK
  4. 4 West of Scotland Genomics Service, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, UK
  5. 5 NHS Highly Specialised Service for Rare Mitochondrial Disorders, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  6. 6 Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research, Translational and Clinical Research Institute, The Medical School, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Taylor Watson-Fargie, Neurology, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Glasgow, UK; taylor.watson-fargie2{at}


A previously healthy 27-year-old man was admitted to the acute neurology ward with events involving his face, throat and upper limb, which video telemetry later confirmed were refractory focal seizures. He also had progressive pyramidal features, dysarthria and ataxia. MR scans of the brain identified progressive bilateral basal ganglia abnormalities, consistent with Leigh syndrome. However, extensive laboratory and genetic panels did not give a unifying diagnosis. A skeletal muscle biopsy showed no histopathological abnormalities on routine stains. Sequencing of the entire mitochondrial genome in skeletal muscle identified a well-characterised pathogenic variant (m.10191T>C in MT-ND3; NC_012920.1) at 85% heteroplasmy in skeletal muscle. We discuss the clinical and molecular diagnosis of an adult presenting with Leigh syndrome, which is more commonly a paediatric presentation of mitochondrial disease, and how early recognition of a mitochondrial cause is important to support patient care.


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  • Contributors TW-F, VM, NEF, RWT, YSN, AS, GSG and MEF involved in collating case, drafting and proof-reading submission. NEF, VL, DP, CVYH, SH, RWT, YSN, AS and GSG involved with expertise and specialist advice on mitochondrial disorders.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed by Patrick Chinnery, Cambridge, UK.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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