A 3-month-old girl was admitted to the hospital because of hypotonia and frequent vomiting. She had severe metabolic acidosis and her liver function was abnormal. Hepatomegaly and rapidly progressive liver failure developed, and she died at 4 months of age. Two half-siblings from a different mother had died in infancy of an undiagnosed myopathy. The liver was fatty and hepatocytes were filled with large and small lipid droplets. Other tissues were morphologically normal. The respiratory chain enzymes containing subunits encoded by mitochondrial DNA were markedly decreased in liver, partially decreased in muscle, but normal in other tissues. Southern blot analysis showed 90% depletion of mitochondrial DNA in liver, 53% depletion in muscle, and normal amounts in other tissues. This is the second case of fatal infantile liver failure associated with mitochondrial DNA depletion. This pathogenetic mechanism should be considered in infants with multiple respiratory chain defects and variable tissue expression. © 1992 Mosby-Year Book, Inc.
- infantile hepatopathy
- mtDNA depletion