Leukoencephalopathy with thalamus and brainstem involvement and high lactate 'LTBL' caused by EARS2 mutations

Marjan E. Steenweg, Daniele Ghezzi, Tobias Haack, Truus E M Abbink, Diego Martinelli, Carola G M Van Berkel, Annette Bley, Luisa Diogo, Eugenio Grillo, Johann Te Water Naudé, Tim M. Strom, Enrico Bertini, Holger Prokisch, Marjo S. Van Der Knaap, Massimo Zeviani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In the large group of genetically undetermined infantile-onset mitochondrial encephalopathies, multiple defects of mitochondrial DNA-related respiratory-chain complexes constitute a frequent biochemical signature. In order to identify responsible genes, we used exome-next-generation sequencing in a selected cohort of patients with this biochemical signature. In an isolated patient, we found two mutant alleles for EARS2, the gene encoding mitochondrial glutamyl-tRNA synthetase. The brain magnetic resonance imaging of this patient was hallmarked by extensive symmetrical cerebral white matter abnormalities sparing the periventricular rim and symmetrical signal abnormalities of the thalami, midbrain, pons, medulla oblongata and cerebellar white matter. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy showed increased lactate. We matched this magnetic resonance imaging pattern with that of a cohort of 11 previously selected unrelated cases. We found mutations in the EARS2 gene in all. Subsequent detailed clinical and magnetic resonance imaging based phenotyping revealed two distinct groups: mild and severe. All 12 patients shared an infantile onset and rapidly progressive disease with severe magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities and increased lactate in body fluids and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Patients in the 'mild' group partially recovered and regained milestones in the following years with striking magnetic resonance imaging improvement and declining lactate levels, whereas those of the 'severe' group were characterized by clinical stagnation, brain atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging and persistent lactate increases. This new neurological disease, early-onset leukoencephalopathy with thalamus and brainstem involvement and high lactate, is hallmarked by unique magnetic resonance imaging features, defined by a peculiar biphasic clinical course and caused by mutations in a single gene, EARS2, expanding the list of medically relevant defects of mitochondrial DNA translation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1387-1394
Number of pages8
JournalBrain
Volume135
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • leukoencephalopathy
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • mitochondrial aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase
  • mitochondrial disease
  • mitochondrial DNA translation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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  • Cite this

    Steenweg, M. E., Ghezzi, D., Haack, T., Abbink, T. E. M., Martinelli, D., Van Berkel, C. G. M., Bley, A., Diogo, L., Grillo, E., Te Water Naudé, J., Strom, T. M., Bertini, E., Prokisch, H., Van Der Knaap, M. S., & Zeviani, M. (2012). Leukoencephalopathy with thalamus and brainstem involvement and high lactate 'LTBL' caused by EARS2 mutations. Brain, 135(5), 1387-1394. https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/aws070