What Is Mitochondrial Encephalopathy, MELAS?
MELAS is the acronym for Mitochondrial Encephalopathy, Lactic Acidosis, and Stroke-like episodes.
MELAS is a form of dementia. It is caused by mutations in the genetic material (DNA) in the mitochondria. While most of our DNA is in the chromosomes in the cell nucleus, another important cell structure that carries DNA is the mitochondrion. Much of the DNA within the mitochondrion is used to manufacture proteins that help in the mitochondrion's energy-producing function.
As a result of the disturbed function of their cells' mitochondria, patients with MELAS develop brain dysfunction (encephalopathy) with seizures and headaches, as well as muscle disease with a buildup of lactic acid in the blood (lactic acidosis), temporary local paralysis (strokelike episodes), and abnormal thinking (dementia).