Article Abstract

Glycogen metabolism and glycogen storage disorders

Authors: Shibani Kanungo, Kimberly Wells, Taylor Tribett, Areeg El-Gharbawy


Glucose is the main energy fuel for the human brain. Maintenance of glucose homeostasis is therefore, crucial to meet cellular energy demands in both - normal physiological states and during stress or increased demands. Glucose is stored as glycogen primarily in the liver and skeletal muscle with a small amount stored in the brain. Liver glycogen primarily maintains blood glucose levels, while skeletal muscle glycogen is utilized during high-intensity exertion, and brain glycogen is an emergency cerebral energy source. Glycogen and glucose transform into one another through glycogen synthesis and degradation pathways. Thus, enzymatic defects along these pathways are associated with altered glucose metabolism and breakdown leading to hypoglycemia ± hepatomegaly and or liver disease in hepatic forms of glycogen storage disorder (GSD) and skeletal ± cardiac myopathy, depending on the site of the enzyme defects. Overall, defects in glycogen metabolism mainly present as GSDs and are a heterogenous group of inborn errors of carbohydrate metabolism. In this article we review the genetics, epidemiology, clinical and metabolic findings of various types of GSD, and glycolysis defects emphasizing current treatment and implications for future directions.

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