Progressive myoclonic epilepsy due to rare mitochondrial ND6 mutation, m.14487T>C

Anthony Khoo, Saadnah Naidu, Surapi Bhairavi Wijayendran, Ashirwad Merve, Fion Bremner, Meneka Kaur Sidhu

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Introduction: Mitochondrial diseases exhibit wide phenotypic heterogeneity, and can present as progressive myoclonic epilepsy. 

Summary: We report a case of adult-onset drug-resistant epilepsy, cortical myoclonus and bilateral optic neuropathies due to m.14487T>C, a rare mitochondrial gene mutation identified on whole-genome sequencing. This mutation, which affects the NADH dehydrogenase 6 (ND6) subunit of the mitochondrial respiratory chain, is most commonly implicated in cases of infantile-onset Leigh syndrome, although a broader phenotypic spectrum including migraine with aura and progressive myoclonic epilepsy have been described. Serial MRI scans over a 2-year period demonstrated the interval development of bihemispheric stroke-like lesions. Giant somatosensory evoked potentials and short-duration myoclonic jerks with craniocaudal spread on surface electromyography were consistent with cortical myoclonus. Optical coherence tomography showed bilateral symmetric thinning of the nerve fibre layer in the papillomacular bundles. 

Conclusion: Whole-genome sequencing can help to provide a definitive diagnosis for mitochondrial disease and should be considered in situations where clinical suspicion remains high despite normal genetic panels or muscle histopathology. Mitochondrial disease can present as adult-onset progressive myoclonic epilepsy, and bilateral optic neuropathies can be a striking feature of ND6 mitochondrial gene mutations. In our case, severe cortical myoclonus affecting speech and swallowing remained highly drug-resistant, however, symptomatic benefit was derived from targeted onabotulinum toxin A injections.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000180
Number of pages3
JournalBMJ Neurology Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • botulinum toxin
  • epilepsy
  • mitochondrial disorders
  • neurogenetics
  • Case report


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