Infections and Immune Function in Mitochondrial Diseases
Patients diagnosed with a mitochondrial disease often experience more infections that are more frequent and/or severe. In some cases, researchers and clinicians have been able to identify problems in the patient’s immune system that contribute to their infection susceptibility.
Patients with mitochondrial diseases can have issues related to the decreased production and function of the body’s white blood cells and antibodies that need to be generated to fight infection. Clinicians cannot always predict which child will manifest problems with their immune system. There are some genetic deficiencies associated with immune dysfunction, but they are not a consistent predictor of immune response problems in patients.
If your child has a mitochondrial disease, we recommend considering screening them for their immunologic response. There are some treatments available that support immune-compromised patients when fighting infections, such as antibody infusions. We also strongly support giving recommend immunizations, including the annual influenza vaccine, to individuals with mitochondrial disease to prevent the otherwise very severe or even life-threating problems that may result from vaccine-preventable diseases.