Mitochondrial disease, known as mito for short, is an umbrella term, like ‘cancer’. There are many different types of mito, as there are many types of cancer. While some forms of mito impact a single organ, others affect multiple organ systems and can be terminal. Unfortunately, there are currently no cures for mito yet, and only a few treatments have proven effective so far.1

Types of mito

There are many different types of mito, with over 350 genetic causes identified so far.  All types are considered rare, but some are more common than others.

Common types of mito include:


Mitochondrial Encephalopathy, Lactic Acidosis and Stroke-like episodes*

Typical onset

Usually between 2 years and 40 years (can be any age)


Lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes with seizures, dementia, muscle weakness, sensorineural hearing loss, blindness, migraines, myopathy (muscle weakness), cardiomyopathy (large heart), diabetes, ataxia (loss of full control of body movements) and short stature.




*The most common type of mitochondrial encephalopathy


Myoclonic Epilepsy and Ragged-Red Fibres


Kearns-Sayre Syndrome


Maternally Inherited Leigh Syndrome Subacute necrotising encephalomyopathy


Neurogenic weakness with Ataxia and Retinitis Pigmentosa


Chronic Progressive External Ophthalmoplegia


Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy

Reference: Mitochondrial Disease: Guide for Health Professionals (Mito Foundation)

More types of mito

There are many more types of mito and more being discovered through research every year.

Causes and symptoms

Diagnosis and prognosis

Prevention, treatments and cures

Disclaimer: Resources provided by the Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation Limited (Mito Foundation), offers general information and is not a substitute for medical advice. It is essential to assess the suitability of the content for your individual circumstances and make decisions based on your medical condition. The information’s accuracy is subject to change, and we do not guarantee ongoing currency or availability. While efforts are made to ensure accuracy, Mito Foundation is not obligated to provide updated information. The copyright for this document and its content belongs to, or is licensed to, Mito Foundation, and reproduction without prior written consent is prohibited.

Author - Mito Foundation
Reviewer: Professor John Christodoulou (AM MB BS PhD FRACP FRCPA FHGSA)
Version Number: 2
Date Published: Wednesday 18th October 2023