What are mitochondrial diseases?

What are mitochondria?

Your body produces energy to function correctly and stay healthy. In nearly all of your body's cells, there are energy production "powerhouses" called mitochondria. Mitochondria are very important as they make energy from the food that you eat, so that your cells can use it to carry out their roles.

What is mitochondrial disease?

Mitochondrial disease is a general term used to describe a variety of diseases that happen when the mitochondria are not working properly.

Usually, your mitochondria produce enough energy for your cells to fully function. However, in people with mitochondrial disease, their mitochondria are not working very well and cannot meet the cell's energy needs. So, when the mitochondria begin to slow down and stop working, it can lead to a wide range of conditions.

Mitochondrial diseases are long-term disorders that are often inherited (passed from parent to child). Mitochondrial conditions can appear in every generation of a family and can affect both males and females, but only females pass mitochondrial conditions to their children (known as maternal inheritance).

Mitochondrial conditions can exist from birth or develop at any age and affect any part of the body with mitochondria. Since each of us have different numbers and combinations of mitochondria, the severity and symptoms of the disease can vary from person to person.

Although there is currently no cure for these diseases, treatments are often available that can help reduce symptoms or slow down the decline in your health.

More information about mitochondria and mitochondrial diseases can be found here: