Rare Infectious Disease News

Disease Profile

Nuclear gene-encoded Leigh syndrome

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable



Nuclear gene-encoded Leigh syndrome is a progressive neurological disease. It usually first becomes apparent in infancy with developmental delay or regression. Rarely, the disease begins in adolescence or adulthood. Symptoms progress to include generalized weakness, lack of muscle tone, spasticity, movement disorders, cerebellar ataxia, and peripheral neuropathy. Other signs and symptoms may include an increase in the heart muscle size (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy); excessive body hair (hypertrichosis); anemia; kidney or liver problems; and lung or heart failure.[1][2] Nuclear gene-encoded Leigh syndrome (and Leigh-like syndrome, a term used for cases with similar features but that do not fulfill the diagnostic criteria for Leigh syndrome) may be caused by mutations in any of several genes and can be inherited in an autosomal recessive or X-linked manner. While treatment for some cases of Leigh-like syndrome may be available, management is generally supportive and focuses on the symptoms present.[2]


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Organizations Providing General Support

      Learn more

      These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

      In-Depth Information

      • GeneReviews provides current, expert-authored, peer-reviewed, full-text articles describing the application of genetic testing to the diagnosis, management, and genetic counseling of patients with specific inherited conditions.


        1. Leigh syndrome. Genetics Home Reference. October, 2011; https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/leigh-syndrome.
        2. Rahman S & Thorburn D. Nuclear Gene-Encoded Leigh Syndrome Overview. GeneReviews. October 1, 2015; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK320989/.
        3. Thronburn DR & Rahman S.. Mitochondrial DNA-Associated Leigh Syndrome and NARP. GeneReviews. April 17, 2014; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1173/.
        4. Leigh syndrome. Genetics Home Reference. June, 2016; https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/leigh-syndrome.