Recognition, investigation and management of mitochondrial disease

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Mitochondria are dynamic organelles present in virtually all human cells that are needed for a multitude of cellular functions, including energy production, control of cell apoptosis and numerous biochemical catabolic and synthetic pathways that are critical for cellular health. Primary mitochondrial disorders are a group of greater than 200 single gene defects arising from two genomes (nuclear and mitochondrial) leading to mitochondrial dysfunction, and are associated with extremely heterogeneous phenotypes. Neuromuscular features predominate, but often with multisystem involvement. Clinical suspicion of a mitochondrial disorder should prompt multipronged investigation with biochemical and molecular genetic studies. Recent wide-scale adoption of next-generation sequencing approaches has led to a rapid increase in the number of disease genes. The advances in unravelling the genetic landscape of mitochondrial diseases have not yet been matched by progress in developing effective therapies, and the mainstay of care remains supportive therapies in a multidisciplinary team setting.

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