MELAS Syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Frederick Hecht, MD, FAAP, FACMG
    Frederick Hecht, MD, FAAP, FACMG

    Frederick Hecht, MD, FAAP, FACMG

    Frederick Hecht, MD, lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr. Hecht is a Pediatrician and Medical Geneticist and is certified by both the American Boards of Pediatrics and Medical Genetics. Dr. Hecht was born and raised in Baltimore and attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. and the Sorbonne at the University of Paris receiving his BA degree cum laude with distinction from Dartmouth.

How is MELAS treated?

There is no known treatment for the underlying disease, which is progressive and fatal. Patients are managed according to what areas of the body are affected at a particular time. antioxidants and vitamins have been used, but there have been no consistent successes reported.

Are there other mitochondrial diseases?

Yes, mutations (genetic changes) in the mitochondrial chromosome are responsible for a number of other disorders aside from MELAS such as:

  • an important eye disease called Leber hereditary optic atrophy;
  • a type of epilepsy called MERRF which stands for Myoclonus Epilepsy with Ragged Red Fibers; and
  • a neuromuscular disease called the Kearns-Sayre syndrome.

MELAS and all other mitochondrial diseases were not well understood before it was discovered that they were due to mutations in the chromosomes of the mitochondria.

Medically reviewed by Joseph Carcione, DO; American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

REFERENCE:

"Mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes"
National Institutes of Health

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/23/2016

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