U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

GTR Home > Conditions/Phenotypes > Kearns-Sayre syndrome


Excerpted from the GeneReview: Single Large-Scale Mitochondrial DNA Deletion Syndromes
Single large-scale mitochondrial DNA deletion syndromes (SLSMDSs) comprise overlapping clinical phenotypes including Kearns-Sayre syndrome (KSS), KSS spectrum, Pearson syndrome (PS), chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia (CPEO), and CPEO-plus. KSS is a progressive multisystem disorder with onset before age 20 years characterized by pigmentary retinopathy, CPEO, and cardiac conduction abnormality. Additional features can include cerebellar ataxia, tremor, intellectual disability or cognitive decline, dementia, sensorineural hearing loss, oropharyngeal and esophageal dysfunction, exercise intolerance, muscle weakness, and endocrinopathies. Brain imaging typically shows bilateral lesions in the globus pallidus and white matter. KSS spectrum includes individuals with KSS in addition to individuals with ptosis and/or ophthalmoparesis and at least one of the following: retinopathy, ataxia, cardiac conduction defects, hearing loss, growth deficiency, cognitive impairment, tremor, or cardiomyopathy. Compared to CPEO-plus, individuals with KSS spectrum have more severe muscle involvement (e.g., weakness, atrophy) and overall have a worse prognosis. PS is characterized by pancytopenia (typically transfusion-dependent sideroblastic anemia with variable cell line involvement), exocrine pancreatic dysfunction, poor weight gain, and lactic acidosis. PS manifestations also include renal tubular acidosis, short stature, and elevated liver enzymes. PS may be fatal in infancy due to neutropenia-related infection or refractory metabolic acidosis. CPEO is characterized by ptosis, ophthalmoplegia, oropharyngeal weakness, variable proximal limb weakness, and/or exercise intolerance. CPEO-plus includes CPEO with additional multisystemic involvement including neuropathy, diabetes mellitus, migraines, hypothyroidism, neuropsychiatric manifestations, and optic neuropathy. Rarely, an SLSMDS can manifest as Leigh syndrome, which is characterized as developmental delays, neurodevelopmental regression, lactic acidosis, and bilateral symmetric basal ganglia, brain stem, and/or midbrain lesions on MRI.

Clinical features


Show allHide all

IMPORTANT NOTE: NIH does not independently verify information submitted to the GTR; it relies on submitters to provide information that is accurate and not misleading. NIH makes no endorsements of tests or laboratories listed in the GTR. GTR is not a substitute for medical advice. Patients and consumers with specific questions about a genetic test should contact a health care provider or a genetics professional.