Case Study Details Rare Adult-Onset Leigh’s Disease Treatment

Case Study Details Rare Adult-Onset Leigh’s Disease Treatment

Researchers at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in India reported a case of adult-onset Leigh’s disease that showed dramatic improvement following treatment. The case study suggests that late onset Leigh’s disease may be treatable.

The study, “Adult-onset Leigh’s disease: A rare entity,” was published in the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology. It describes the case of a 37-year-old woman who had long-term abdominal pain and vomiting as well as brain stem syndrome characterized by dizziness, headache, and double vision.

Following neurological examination, brain MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and blood and urine tests, she was provisionally diagnosed with adult-onset Leigh’s disease. When she was treated with a mitochondrial cocktail, she showed dramatic improvement and continued to be free of symptoms after one year.

“Mitochondrial cocktail” is a mixture of several vitamins and supplements commonly used by people with mitochondrial disease to decrease symptoms of the condition. The mitochondrial cocktail used in the recent study contained vitamin B1, vitamin B2, coenzyme-Q, L-carnitine and L-arginine.

Genetic analyses showed no mutations in the patient’s mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which can sometimes cause Leigh’s disease. But the study authors noted: “Recognized mtDNA mutations only account for a small proportion of cases of mitochondrial disease;” some people never get a definitive genetic diagnosis for their condition.

Leigh’s disease is a rare but severe neurodegenerative condition that usually affects babies and is diagnosed by the first birthday. The condition is characterized by progressive loss of the ability to move and results in death within two years, usually caused by respiratory failure. In some rare cases, Leigh’s disease appears in adulthood and progresses more slowly.

The condition can be caused by a mutation in one of more than 30 different genes. Some of the genes are found in the mitochondria and are involved in energy production. The condition can be inherited or result from a new mutation.

Although no proven therapies for Leigh’s disease exist, some case studies and personal observations show improvements following certain therapies.


  1. Amy says:

    Hi I saw this and have been trying to find something on Adult Leigh’s disease. I have Foxred 1 mutation as well as Polg mutation. My symptoms started with my stomach, but now it is effecting my whole body.. My neurological issues have been the most difficult. Loosing eye sight, confusion and severe memory loss. If you have any info or help, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you, Amy Crowe

  2. moiz mansoor ali says:


    My nephew, 18 months old, has been recently diagnosed with Leigh Syndrome. My sister and her husband are devastated and we are looking for possible treatment for my nephew. I came across this article which shows some promising signs on treatment for LS, although the case is different since this is an adult woman versus my nephew who seems to have LS by birth. Can you please reply if there are treatments available ? Any suggestions are welcome.

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