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Axial mitochondrial myopathy in a patient with rapidly progressive adult-onset scoliosis.


Axial myopathy can be the underlying cause of rapidly progressive adult-onset scoliosis; however, the pathogenesis of this disorder remains poorly understood. Here we present a case of a 69-year old woman with a family history of scoliosis affecting both her mother and her son, who over 4 years developed rapidly progressive scoliosis. The patient had a history of stable scoliosis since adolescence that worsened significantly at age 65, leading to low back pain and radiculopathy. Paraspinal muscle biopsy showed morphologic evidence of a mitochondrial myopathy. Diagnostic deficiencies of electron transport chain enzymes were not detected using standard bioassays, but mitochondrial immunofluorescence demonstrated many muscle fibers totally or partially deficient for complexes I, III, IV-I, and IV-IV. Massively parallel sequencing of paraspinal muscle mtDNA detected multiple deletions as well as a 40.9% heteroplasmic novel m.12293G > A (MT-TL2) variant, which changes a G:C pairing to an A:C mispairing in the anticodon stem of tRNA Leu(CUN). Interestingly, these mitochondrial abnormalities were not detected in the blood of either the patient or her son, suggesting that the patient's rapidly progressive late onset scoliosis was due to the acquired paraspinal mitochondrial myopathy; the cause of non-progressive scoliosis in the other two family members currently remains unexplained. Notably, this case illustrates that isolated mitochondrial myopathy can underlie rapidly-progressive adult-onset scoliosis and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of the primary axial myopathy.

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