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Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2007 Oct;33(5):544-59. Epub 2007 Jun 15.

Adult-onset glycogen storage disease type 2: clinico-pathological phenotype revisited.

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Friedrich-Baur-Institute, Department of Neurology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.


The need for clinical awareness and diagnostic precision of glycogen storage disease type 2 (GSD2) has increased, as enzyme replacement therapy has become available. So far, only small series have reported the muscle pathology of late-onset GSD2. We reassessed 43 muscle biopsies of 38 GSD2 patients. In all patients the diagnosis of GSD2 has been established by biochemistry and/or mutational analysis of the GAA gene. Additionally to the expected morphological features, ultrastructural analysis revealed a high incidence of autophagic vacuoles, lipofuscin debris, structural Z-line disorganization and histological neurogenic-like pattern that were not thoroughly appreciated, previously. Comparing age at onset and morphology, excessive vacuolar and autophagic myopathy and mitochondrial disorganization of virtually all fibres is common in infants. At juvenile onset, a more moderate vacuolization without significant differences in overall morphology is notable. At late-onset, the spectrum of vacuolar myopathy is more divergent, ranging from almost normal to severe. Here pronounced secondary alterations are observed that include lipofuscin debris, autophagic vacuoles with residual lysosomal bodies and granular inclusions, structural mitochondrial and Z-line texture alterations. Moreover, there is a high incidence of subtle neurogenic-like alteration in all subtypes. Nineteen patients were genetically tested; in 15 patients the common leaky splicing mutation c.-45T>G (or IVS1-13T>G) in intron1 of the GAA gene was found on at least one allele, facilitating genetic screening. In our patients, GAA genotype appears not to be associated with secondary alterations such as autophagic vacuoles, structural alterations or neurogenic-like changes. These findings may have implications for our understanding of the pathogenesis of GSD2 and for assessing therapeutic success of enzyme replacement therapy.

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