Laboratory and metabolic investigations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Clinical variability and substantial overlap between mitochondrial disorders and other genetic disorders and inborn errors make the clinical and metabolic diagnosis of mitochondrial disorders quite challenging. Evaluating specific laboratory markers is essential in the diagnostic process, but mitochondrial disease can be present in the absence of any abnormal metabolic markers. In this chapter, we share the current consensus guidelines for metabolic investigations, including investigations in blood, urine, and the cerebral spinal fluid and discuss different diagnostic approaches. As personal experience might significantly vary and there are different recommendations published as diagnostic guidelines, the Mitochondrial Medicine Society developed a consensus approach based on literature review for metabolic diagnostics in a suspected mitochondrial disease. According to the guidelines, the work-up should include the assessment of complete blood count, creatine phosphokinase, transaminases, albumin, postprandial lactate and pyruvate (lactate/pyruvate ratio when the lactate level is elevated), uric acid, thymidine, amino acids, acylcarnitines in blood, and urinary organic acids (especially screening for 3-methylglutaconic acid). Urine amino acid analysis is recommended in mitochondrial tubulopathies. CSF metabolite analysis (lactate, pyruvate, amino acids, and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate) should be included in the presence of central nervous system disease. We also suggest a diagnostic strategy based on the mitochondrial disease criteria (MDC) scoring system in mitochondrial disease diagnostics; evaluating muscle-, neurologic-, and multisystem involvement, and the presence of metabolic markers and abnormal imaging. The consensus guideline encourages a primary genetic approach in diagnostics and only suggests a more invasive diagnostic approach with tissue biopsies (histology, OXPHOS measurements, etc.) after nonconclusive genetic testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Clinical Neurology
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Publication series

NameHandbook of Clinical Neurology
ISSN (Print)0072-9752
ISSN (Electronic)2212-4152


  • 3MGA
  • Alanine
  • Ethylmalonic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Metabolomics
  • Methylmalonic acid
  • Mitochondrial disease criteria
  • Pyruvate
  • Thymidine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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