Pediatric mitochondrial diseases and the heart.


Mitochondrial disorders are an increasingly recognized cause of heart dysfunction, with the primary manifestations being cardiomyopathy and conduction defects. This review focuses on the complex genetics of mitochondrial disease and recently discovered conditions that affect mitochondrial function.


Next-generation sequencing techniques, especially whole-exome sequencing, have led to the discovery of a number of conditions that cause mitochondrial dysfunction and subsequent cardiac abnormalities. Nuclear DNA defects are the main cause of mitochondrial disease in children, with disease pathogenesis being related to either abnormalities in specific mitochondrial electron transport chain subunits or in proteins related to subunit or mitochondrial DNA maintenance, mitochondrial protein translation, lipid bilayer structure, or other aspects of mitochondrial function.


Currently, symptomatic therapy using standard medications targeting relief of complications is the primary approach to treatment. There are no US Food and Drug Administration-approved therapies for the specific treatment of mitochondrial disease. However, on the basis of recent advances in understanding of the pathophysiology of these complex disorders, various novel approaches are either in clinical trials or in development.

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