Mitochondrial Disease FAQ's

Mitochondrial Disease is an inherited, chronic illness that can be present at birth or develop later in life. “Mito” is progressive and can cause physical, developmental, and cognitive disabilities. Symptoms can be mild, such as tiredness or weakness, or they can be severe, such as poor growth, loss of muscle coordination, muscle weakness and pain, seizures, vision and/or hearing loss, gastrointestinal issues, learning disabilities, and organ failure. Approximately 1 in 4,000 people have Mito. There is no cure, but there are treatments that can help with the symptoms.

What Are Mitochondria 

• Mitochondria are tiny organelles found in every cell in the body except red blood cells. The number of mitochondria in a cell varies by tissue and cell type with higher numbers per cell found in high energy-requiring organs, such as the liver, heart, brain, muscles, pancreas, eyes, ears, kidney, and GI tract.

• Mitochondria are known as the “powerhouse of the cell.”

• Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90 percent of cellular energy which is necessary for the body to sustain life and support growth.

• Mitochondria turn nutrients into cellular energy in the respiratory chain cycle.

• Mitochondria have their own independent genome (mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA) that was likely derived from early bacteria.

• Mitochondrial failure causes cell injury that leads to cell death. When multiple organ cells die, organs begin to fail.

What Is Mitochondrial Disease

• Mitochondrial disease is a chronic, genetic disorder that occurs when the mitochondria of the cell fail to produce enough energy for cell or organ function.

• Many forms of mitochondrial disease are known, arising from defects in both the mtDNA and the cell’s nuclear DNA (nDNA).

• Mitochondrial disease can be inherited in a number of ways.