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Microangiopathy has been well described in the brain and muscle of patients with mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS).
To describe a patient with the common A3243G/MELAS point mutation who had aortic rupture and whose mother also died of large vessel rupture.
Collaboration between a primary care hospital and 2 academic tertiary care hospitals.
Histologically, there was marked disarray of the smooth muscle architecture of the aorta, and immunohistochemical staining with antibodies against the mitochondrial DNA–encoded cytochrome-C oxidase I subunit showed uniformly decreased immunostaining of the endothelial and smooth muscle cells of the aorta and vasa vasorum. Polymerase chain reaction and restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis showed that the mutation load was 40.5% in blood but 85.3% in the blood vessels.
The severe vasculopathy in this patient is probably directly related to the high mutation load in the blood vessels. Although aortic rupture is an unusual manifestation of MELAS, it is an important potential complication in patients undergoing minor surgical procedures.
Tay SHK, Nordli DR, Bonilla E, et al. Aortic Rupture in Mitochondrial Encephalopathy, Lactic Acidosis, and Stroke-Like Episodes. Arch Neurol. 2006;63(2):281–283. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archneur.63.2.281
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