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Cardiomyopathies due to homoplasmic mitochondrial tRNA mutations: morphologic and molecular features

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Helen Tuppen, Dr Langping He, Professor Robert Taylor


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Isolated hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may represent the sole clinical feature of a mitochondrial disorder in adult patients. The clinical outcome is characterized by a rapid progression to dilation and failure. A mitochondrial etiology in these cases is not obvious at clinical investigation and may represent an unexpected finding at autopsy or after cardiac transplant. We describe the morphologic, biochemical, and molecular features of hearts from 3 transplanted patients with isolated mitochondrial cardiomyopathy caused by homoplasmic mutations in the MTTI gene, coding for mitochondrial isoleucine tRNA (mt-tRNA(Ile)). On gross examination, the 3 hearts showed a symmetric pattern of hypertrophy. At histology, cardiomyocytes were hypertrophic and showed sarcoplasmic vacuoles filled with granules that stain with antimitochondrial antibodies. On frozen sections, the combined cytochrome c oxidase (COX)/succinate dehydrogenase stain showed a large prevalence of COX-deficient cardiomyocytes. Mitochondrially encoded COX subunit I was almost absent on immunohistochemistry, whereas the nuclear-encoded COX subunit IV was normally expressed. Ultrastructural analysis confirmed the marked mitochondrial proliferation. Biochemical studies of cardiac homogenates revealed a combined respiratory chain defect. Quantitative restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of DNA from cardiac homogenate confirmed that the mt-tRNA mutations were also detected in the patient's blood. High-resolution Northern blot analysis showed a marked decrease in the steady-state level of mt-tRNA(Ile), confirming pathogenicity. In conclusion, pathologists play a major role in unraveling the mitochondrial etiology of isolated hypertrophic cardiomyopathies, provided that a detailed diagnostic flowchart is followed. Once the mitochondrial etiology is clearly defined, molecular analyses on the heart are an invaluable tool to assign mutation pathogenicity. (C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Giordano C, Perli E, Orlandi M, Pisano A, Tuppen HA, He L, Ierino R, Petruzziello L, Terzi A, Autore C, Petrozza V, Gallo P, Taylor RW, d'Amati G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Human Pathology

Year: 2013

Volume: 44

Issue: 7

Pages: 1262-1270

Print publication date: 01/07/2013

Online publication date: 17/01/2013

Acceptance date: 12/10/2012

ISSN (print): 0046-8177

ISSN (electronic): 1532-8392

Publisher: W.B. Saunders Co.


DOI: 10.1016/j.humpath.2012.10.011


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