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Ultrastructural mitochondrial alterations in Equine myopathies of unknown origin

Van Driessche, K., Ducatelle, R., Chiers, K., Van Coster, R., van der Kolk, J. H.
Veterinary quarterly 2015 v.35 no.1 pp. 2-8
Quarter Horse, algorithms, biopsy, geldings, mares, mitochondria, muscles, muscular diseases, patients, stallions, transmission electron microscopy, ultrastructure
Background: Very few mitochondrial myopathies have been described in horses. Objective: To examine the ultrastructure of muscle mitochondria in equine cases of myopathy of unknown origin. Materials & methods: Biopsies of vastus lateralis of the Musculus quadriceps femoris were taken predominantly immediately post mortem and processed for transmission electron microscopy. As a result, electron micrographs of 90 horses in total were available for analysis comprising 4 control horses, 16 horses suffering from myopathy and 70 otherwise diseased horses. Results: Following a thorough clinical and laboratory work-up, four out of five patients that did not fit into the usual algorithm to detect known causes of myopathy showed ultrastructural mitochondrial alterations. Small mitochondria with zones with complete disruption of cristae associated with lactic acidemia were detected in a 17-year-old pony mare, extremely long and slender mitochondria with longitudinal cristae in a 5-year-old Quarter horse stallion, a mixture of irregular extremely large mitochondria (measuring 2500 by 800 nm) next to smaller ones in an 8-year-old Hanoverian mare and round mitochondria with only few cristae in a 11-year-old pony gelding. It remains uncertain whether the subsarcolemmal mitochondrial accumulations observed in the fifth patient have any pathological significance. Conclusions: Ultrastructural alterations in mitochondria were detected in at least four horses. To conclude that these are due to mitochondrial dysfuntions, biochemical tests should be performed. Practical applications: The possibility of a mitochondrial myopathy should be included in the differential diagnosis of muscle weakness.