Home > Learn About “Mito”

What is Mitochondrial Disease (“Mito”)?

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell providing the body with over 90% of the energy it needs to sustain life. Mitochondria take in sugars and proteins from the food we eat and produce energy that our bodies use to function properly. Mitochondrial Disease (sometimes referred to as “mito”) is a debilitating and potentially fatal disease that reduces the ability of the mitochondria to produce this energy. When the mitochondria are not working properly, cells begin to die which can eventually lead to organ systems failing and putting the patient’s life at risk.

There are many variants of mitochondrial disease. Those variants sharing similar symptoms have names given to identify them (for example, MELAS, Leigh Syndrome, etc). However, due to the variations in presentation (how much of the mitochondria is impacted, and how that in turns impacts the organs and body), prognosis of Mitochondrial Disease varies greatly from person to person. Additionally, as children with mito continue to grow and develop, the impact of the disease may change.

The following resources have additional information to help you learn more about Mitochondrial Disease (“mito):
UMDF’s What is Mitochondrial Disease – more descriptive definition, and videos at the bottom of the page.
MitoAction’s About Mitochondrial Disease – Mito FAQ – contains answers to many questions about the disease.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Mitochondrial Medicine Center – one of the few medical facilities that specializes in this disease.