Nutrition and exercise in Pompe disease

Mark A. Tarnopolsky, Mats I. Nilsson


The current standard of care for Pompe disease (PD) is the administration of enzyme replacement therapy (ERT). Exercise and nutrition are often considered as complementary strategies rather than “treatments” per se. Nutritional assessment is important in patients with locomotor disability because the relative hypodynamia limits energy expenditure and thus the total amount of energy must be reduced to avoid obesity. A lower total energy intake often leads to lower protein and micronutrient intake. Consequently, ensuring that Pompe patients are tested for and replaced for deficiencies (protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, etc.) is an important aspect of care. Furthermore, given the role of autophagy in the pathophysiology of PD and the fact that fasting induces autophagy, it is important that strategies such as nutritional timing and amino acid intake (L-arginine, L-leucine) be evaluated as therapies. Exercise interventions have been shown to improve six-minute walk testing distance by more than what was seen in the seminal ERT study in late-onset PD. Exercise therapy can also activate autophagy, and this is likely another component of its efficacy. The current review will evaluate the theoretical and practical aspects of nutrition and exercise as therapies for patients with PD.