Defects of complex I of the mitochondrial respiratory chain are important causes of neurological disease. We report studies that demonstrate a severe deficiency of complex I activity with less severe abnormalities of complexes III and IV (less than 5, 63, and 30% of control values, respectively) in a skeletal muscle mitochondrial fraction from a 22-yr-old female with weakness, lactic acidemia, and the deposition of intramuscular neutral lipid. The observation that lipid accumulates in this and other patients with complex I deficiency suggests impaired mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation. To investigate this mechanism we have shown impaired flux through beta-oxidation [( U-14C]hexadecanoate oxidation was 66% of control rate) and accumulation of specific acyl-CoA ester intermediates. The changes in fatty acid metabolism in complex I deficiency are secondary to the reduced state within the mitochondrial matrix with low NAD+/NADH ratios.


N J Watmough, L A Bindoff, M A Birch-Machin, S Jackson, K Bartlett, C I Ragan, J Poulton, R M Gardiner, H S Sherratt, D M Turnbull


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