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Glycogen metabolism in humans


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In the human body, glycogen is a branched polymer of glucose stored mainly in the liver and the skeletal muscle that supplies glucose to the blood stream during fasting periods and to the muscle cells during muscle contraction. Glycogen has been identified in other tissues such as brain, heart, kidney, adipose tissue, and erythrocytes, but glycogen function in these tissues is mostly unknown. Glycogen synthesis requires a series of reactions that include glucose entrance into the cell through transporters, phosphorylation of glucose to glucose 6-phosphate, isomerization to glucose 1-phosphate, and formation of uridine 5ʹ-diphosphate-glucose, which is the direct glucose donor for glycogen synthesis. Glycogenin catalyzes the formation of a short glucose polymer that is extended by the action of glycogen synthase. Glycogen branching enzyme introduces branch points in the glycogen particle at even intervals. Laforin and malin are proteins involved in glycogen assembly but their specific function remains elusive in humans. Glycogen is accumulated in the liver primarily during the postprandial period and in the skeletal muscle predominantly after exercise. In the cytosol, glycogen breakdown or glycogenolysis is carried out by two enzymes, glycogen phosphorylase which releases glucose 1-phosphate from the linear chains of glycogen, and glycogen debranching enzyme which untangles the branch points. In the lysosomes, glycogen degradation is catalyzed by α-glucosidase. The glucose 6-phosphatase system catalyzes the dephosphorylation of glucose 6-phosphate to glucose, a necessary step for free glucose to leave the cell. Mutations in the genes encoding the enzymes involved in glycogen metabolism cause glycogen storage diseases.
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Glycogen metabolism in humans
María M. Adeva-Andany , Manuel González-Lucán, Cristóbal Donapetry-García,
Carlos Fernández-Fernández, Eva Ameneiros-Rodríguez
Nephrology Division, Hospital General Juan Cardona, c/ Pardo Bazán s/n, 15406 Ferrol, Spain
abstractarticle info
Article history:
Received 25 November 2015
Received in revised form 10 February 2016
Accepted 16 February 2016
Available online 27 February 2016
In the human body,glycogen is a branched polymer of glucose stored mainly in the liver and the skeletal muscle
that supplies glucose to the blood stream during fasting periods and to the muscle cells during muscle contrac-
tion. Glycogen has been identied in other tissues such as brain, heart, kidney, adipose tissue, and erythrocytes,
but glycogen function in these tissues is mostly unknown. Glycogen synthesis requires a series of reactions that
include glucose entrance into the cell through transporters, phosphorylation of glucose to glucose 6-phosphate,
isomerization to glucose 1-phosphate, and formation of uridine 5ʹ-diphosphate-glucose, which is the direct glu-
cose donorfor glycogen synthesis. Glycogenincatalyzes the formation of a short glucosepolymer that is extended
by the action of glycogen synthase.Glycogen branching enzyme introduces branch points in the glycogen particle
at even intervals. Laforinand malin are proteinsinvolved in glycogenassembly but their specicfunctionremains
elusive in humans. Glycogenis accumulated in the liver primarily during the postprandial period and in the skel-
etal muscle predominantly after exercise. In the cytosol, glycogen breakdown or glycogenolysis is carried out by
two enzymes, glycogen phosphorylase which releases glucose 1-phosphate from the linear chains of glycogen,
and glycogen debranching enzyme which untangles the branch points. In the lysosomes, glycogen degradation
is catalyzed by α-glucosidase. The glucose 6-phosphatase system catalyzes the dephosphorylation of glucose
6-phosphate to glucose, a necessary step for free glucose to leave the cell. Mutations in the genes encoding the
enzymes involved in glycogen metabolism cause glycogen storage diseases.
© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
Glycogen synthase
Glycogen phosphorylase
Glycogen storage diseases
1. Introduction .............................................................. 86
2. Glycogensynthesis ........................................................... 86
2.1. Glucoseuptake:glucosetransporters ................................................ 86
2.1.1. Glucoseuptakeintothebrain ............................................... 87
2.1.2. Glucoseuptakeinskeletalmuscle ............................................. 87
2.1.3. Glucoseuptakeinliverandpancreas ............................................ 88
2.1.4. Glucose transporter-2 deciency or FanconiBickeldisease(GSDtypeXI) ........................... 88
2.2. Glucosephosphorylation:hexokinases ............................................... 88
2.3. Glucoseisomerization:phosphoglucomutases ............................................ 88
2.3.1. Phosphoglucomutase-1(PGM1) .............................................. 89
2.3.2. Phosphoglucomutase-3(PGM3) .............................................. 90
2.4. Formation of uridine 5ʹ-diphosphate-glucose:UDP-glucosepyrophosphorylaseorglucose1-phosphateuridyltransferase .......... 90
2.5. Initiationofglycogensynthesis:glycogenin ............................................. 91
2.6. Elongationofthelinearglycogenchain:glycogensynthase ...................................... 91
2.6.1. Muscle glycogen synthase deciency(muscleGSD0) .................................... 91
2.6.2. Liver glycogen synthase deciency(liverGSD0)....................................... 91
2.6.3. Glycogensynthasekinases................................................. 91
2.6.4. Glycogensynthasephosphatases:proteinphosphatase-1................................... 91
BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100
The authors declare that there are no conicts of interest.
☆☆ There was no nancial support for this work.
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (M.M. Adeva-Andany).
2214-6474/© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
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2.6.5. Effectofglucose6-phosphateonhepaticglycogensynthaseactivity .............................. 92
2.6.6. Balancedcontrolofglycogenphosphorylaseandglycogensynthaseactivities .......................... 92
2.7. Branchingoftheglycogenparticle:glycogenbranchingenzyme .................................... 92
2.7.1. Glycogen branching enzyme deciencyorAndersendisease(GSDIV) .............................92
2.8. Laforin,malin,andPRDM8 ..................................................... 92
2.8.1. Laforadisease.......................................................92
3. Glycogendegradation ..........................................................92
3.1. Glycogendegradationinthecytosol.................................................92
3.1.1. Glycogenphosphorylase..................................................93
3.1.2. Glycogendebranchingenzyme ...............................................94
3.2. Glycogen degradation in the lysosomes: lysosomal acid α-glucosidase(GAA) .............................. 94
3.2.1. Lysosomal α-glucosidase (acid maltase) deciencyorPompedisease(GSDII).......................... 94
4. Glucosedephosphorylation:glucose6-phosphatasesystem ......................................... 95
4.1. Glucose6-phosphatetranslocaseorglucose6-phosphatetransporter..................................95
4.2. Glucose6-phosphataseisoenzymes ................................................. 95
4.2.1. Glucose 6-phosphatase system deciencyorvonGierkedisease(GSDI) ............................ 95
4.2.2. MutationsintheG6PC1gene(GSDIa) ........................................... 95
4.2.3. MutationsintheG6PTgene(GSDIb) ............................................95
4.2.4. Glucose 6-phosphatase catalytic-3 deciency ........................................ 95
5. Glycogen storage diseases induced by congenital deciencyofglycolyticenzymes ...............................96
5.1. Phosphofructokinase deciencyorTaruidisease(GSDVII).......................................96
5.2. Phosphoglycerate mutase deciency(GSDX) ............................................ 96
5.3. Aldolase A deciency(GSDXII) ................................................... 96
5.3.1. β-Enolase (enolase-3) deciency(GSDXIII) ......................................... 96
5.4. Lactate dehydrogenase deciency.................................................. 96
6. Glycogenmetabolisminliverandskeletalmuscleofhealthyhumans .....................................96
6.1. Glycogenmetabolismintheliver .................................................. 96
6.2. Glycogenmetabolismintheskeletalmuscle ............................................. 97
6.2.1. Exercisediminishesglycogenconcentrationincontractingskeletalmuscle ........................... 97
6.2.2. Exercisepromotesglycogenstorageinthepreviouslyactiveskeletalmuscle .......................... 97
6.2.3. Dietary modications alone do not alter signicantlyglycogenstoragecapacityinrestingmuscles ................97
6.2.4. Roleofexerciseinglycogenstoragediseases......................................... 97
Transparencydocument ................................ ............................98
Acknowledgments .............................................................. 98
References ...................................................................
1. Introduction
Glycogen is a branched polymer of glucose that contains a minor
amount of phosphate and glucosamine. In the linear chains, the glucose
residues are connected by α-1,4-glycosidic linkages while α-1,6-glyco-
sidic bonds create the branch points. Branches within normal glycogen
are distributed at even intervals resulting in a structure with spherical
shape. The source and function of phosphate and glucosamine in
human glycogen are unclear. The glycogen particle consists of up to
55.000 glucose residues. In skeletal muscle, glycogen particles have a
size of 1044 nm in diameter while in the liver measure approximately
110290 nm. Glycogen can be identied by electron microscopy inside
the cells [1].
The synthesis of glycogen requires the coordinated action of a num-
ber of enzymes (Fig. 1). Glucose enters the cells via glucosetransporters,
being phosphorylated to glucose 6-phosphate by hexokinase isoen-
zymes. The next step is the isomerization of glucose 6-phosphate into
glucose 1-phosphate by phosphoglucomutase-1. Then, uridine 5ʹ-di-
phosphate (UDP)-glucose pyrophosphorylase catalyzes the formation
of UDP-glucose from glucose 1-phosphate. UDP-glucose is the immedi-
ate glucose donor for glycogen construction. Glycogenin initiates the
synthesis of glycogen by autoglycosylation transporting glucose from
UDP-glucose to itself and forming a short linear chain of about 1020
glucose moieties. The elongation of this initial glycogen sequence is cat-
alyzed by glycogen synthase that transfers a glycosyl moiety from UDP-
glucose to the growing glycogen strand, providing the α-1,4-glycosidic
linkages between glucose residues. The branching enzyme introduces
branch points in the glycogen particle, by creating α-1,6 glycosidic
bonds at regular intervals. Laforin and malin are proteins of undened
function in humans that inuence glycogen assembly.
The source of the glucose residues that form the glycogen particle is
either the ingested food (direct pathway of glycogen synthesis) or the
gluconeogenesis route (indirect pathway), in which gluconeogenic pre-
cursors such as lactate and alanine produce glucose 6-phosphate that
may be used to synthesize glycogen.
Glycogen degradation takes place both in the cytoplasm and inside
the lysosomes. In the cytosol, glycogen breakdown is accomplished by
the coordinated action of two enzymes, glycogen phosphorylase, which
releases glucose 1-phosphate by untangling the α-1,4-glycosidic link-
ages, and glycogen debranching enzyme that unfastens the branch points
releasing free glucose (Fig. 2). Glucose 1-phosphate derived from glyco-
gen in the cytosol may be isomerized into glucose 6-phosphate which
is dephosphorylated to free glucose by glucose 6-phosphatase (Fig. 3)
in order for glucose to leave the cell via glucose transporters. In the lyso-
somes, the breakdown of glycogen is accomplished by the lysosomal en-
zyme acid α-glucosidase or acid maltase (Fig. 4).
Molecular changes in the genes that encode enzymes involved in
glycogen metabolism may cause glycogen storage diseases (GSDs) by
interfering either with glycogen synthesis or with glycogen degradation
(Table 1). In addition, some mutations in genes that code enzymes im-
plicatedin the glycolytic pathway havebeen labeled as glycogen storage
diseases (Fig. 5).
2. Glycogen synthesis
2.1. Glucose uptake: glucose transporters
In most human tissues glucose crosses the plasma membrane
and enters into the cells through glucose transporters via facilitated
86 M.M. Adeva-Andany et al. / BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100
2.1.1. Glucose uptake into the brain
Glucose transporter-1 (GLUT1) is the primary mediator of glucose
transport across the endothelium of the bloodbrain barrier. GLUT1 de-
ciency syndrome is the result of impaired glucose transport into the
brain. This syndrome has a broad clinical spectrum characterized by in-
fantile seizures, acquired microcephaly, movement disorder, intellectu-
al impairment and low glucose concentration in the cerebrospinal uid
[2]. Ketogenic diets to promote the synthesis of ketone bodieshave been
used in patients affected with this disease, but not all of them
experience resolution of symptoms [3]. In healthy subjects, glucose up-
take by the brain is not mediated by insulin and accounts for most of
glucose taken up by the whole body during the post-absorptive period
[4]. GLUT1 is also operative in the red blood cells and skeletal muscle [2].
2.1.2. Glucose uptake in skeletal muscle
In human skeletal muscle, glucose uptake is carried out predomi-
nantly by two transporters, GLUT1 and GLUT4. GLUT1 lies on the plasma
membrane likely facilitating basal glucose transportation into the
Fig. 1. Glycogen synthesis and glycogen storage diseases.
Fig. 2. Glycogen degradation in the cytosol and glycogen storage diseases.
87M.M. Adeva-Andany et al. / BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100
muscle ber. By contrast, GLUT4resides inside intracellularstorage ves-
icles under basal conditions, being translocated to the plasma mem-
brane upon stimulation by muscle contraction or insulin [5]. Glucose
uptake by human skeletal muscle is stimulated by endurance training
and insulin at least in part via an increase in the level of GLUT4 on the
plasma membrane [6].
2.1.3. Glucose uptake in liver and pancreas
Glucose uptake into human hepatocytes and pancreatic β-cells is
performed by GLUT2 (solute carrier family 2, member A2 or SLC2A2),
a transporter that allows glucose entry down the concentration gradient
between the blood and the tissue. GLUT2 protein is encoded by the
GLUT2 gene, mapped to chromosome 3q26.1q26.3 and expressed in
human liver, kidney, and pancreas [7].
2.1.4. Glucose transporter-2 deciency or FanconiBickel disease (GSD type
FanconiBickel disease is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by
mutations in the GLUT2 gene and characterized by impaired utilization
of glucose and galactose that leads to hypergalactosemia and hypergly-
cemia in the postprandial period and ketotic hypoglycemia in the fasting
state. Typical features of the disease are accumulation of glycogen in the
liver and kidney involvement with proximal tubular nephropathy in-
cludingglucosuria,aminoaciduria, and hyperphosphaturia.Dietary ther-
apy includes galactose restriction and small and frequent meals with
uncooked cornstarch at bedtime to avoid fasting hypoglycemia and
ketogenesis [8].
2.2. Glucose phosphorylation: hexokinases
Once inside the cell, hexokinase isoenzymes phosphorylatefree glu-
cose to glucose 6-phosphate, ensuring the permanence of this metabo-
lite inside the cell. In humans, there are four isoenzymes of hexokinase,
termed hexokinases I, II, III, and IV (glucokinase). The isoenzyme of
hexokinase expressed in skeletal muscle is hexokinase II and the
human gene encoding this isoenzyme has been mapped to chromo-
some 2p13.1 [9].
The gene encoding human glucokinase (GCK)islocatedonchromo-
some 7p15.3p15.1. Glucokinase has been identied in human liver and
pancreatic β-andα-cells, but it is not found in the exocrine pancreas [10].
It is generally accepted that human hexokinases I to III show a high
afnity for glucose and are inhibited by their product, glucose 6-
phosphate. In contrast, glucokinase (hexokinase IV) shows lower afn-
ity for glucose and is not inhibited by glucose 6-phosphate [11].
Glucokinase action is modulated by the glucokinase regulatory pro-
tein, encoded by the gene glucokinase regulator (GCKR). Human GCKR is
expressed in the liverbut it does not appear to be appreciably expressed
in pancreatic β-cells. In the fasting state, hepatic glucokinase regulatory
protein inhibits glucokinase action limiting glucose utilization. By con-
trast, in the postprandial state, the intracellular glucose concentration
increases in the hepatocyte and glucokinase remains unrestrained in
the cytosol, generating glucose 6-phosphate and promoting glucose
metabolism [12].
Glucose transport inside the cell does not appear to be rate-limiting
for glucose uptake by the pancreatic β-cells and the hepatocytes, as glu-
cose entry into these cells is driven by the concentration gradient be-
tween the blood and the intracellular concentration via the GLUT2
transporter. Glucose phosphorylation by glucokinase is likely a major
factor in the regulation of glucose utilization in pancreatic β-cells and
hepatocytes [11].
The importance of glucokinase action is highlighted by the fact that
mutationsin the glucokinase gene lead to disorders of glucose metabo-
lism. Gain of function mutations in the glucokinase gene result in
persistent hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia of infancy, as glucokinase
activation facilitates glucose metabolism in the pancreatic β-cells, en-
hancing insulin secretion and leading to hypoglycemia. Inactivatingmu-
tations in the GCK locus cause permanent neonatal diabetes mellitus
and maturity onset diabetes of the young (GK-MODY or MODY 2), an
autosomal dominant form of monogenic diabetes [13].
Glucokinase deciency or inactivation hinders glucose metabolism
in the pancreatic β-cells and the hepatocyte, leading to impaired insulin
secretion in the pancreas and reduced glycogen synthesis in the liver
during the postprandial period [14]. The net increment in hepatic glyco-
gen content after a meal is lower in glucokinase-decient patients
compared to controls. These patients also show enhanced hepatic glu-
coneogenesis after meals and the gluconeogenic pathway is relatively
more important for synthesizing hepatic glycogen than the direct path-
way for glycogen synthesis [15].
2.3. Glucose isomerization: phosphoglucomutases
In order to synthesize glycogen, glucose 6-phosphate undergoes
isomerization into glucose 1-phosphate by some isoenzymes of phos-
phoglucomutase. Five phosphoglucomutase isoenzymes are known to
Fig. 3. Glucose 6-phosphatase system and glycogen storage disease type I.
Fig. 4. Glycogen breakdown in the lysosomes and α-glucosidase deciency.
88 M.M. Adeva-Andany et al. / BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100
encoding PGM1 (PGM1), PGM3 (PGM3), and PGM5 (PGM5) isoforms
have been identied,being located on chromosomes 1p31, 6q, and 9, re-
spectively [16,17].
2.3.1. Phosphoglucomutase-1 (PGM1)
Phosphoglucomutase-1 is a phosphotransferase that catalyzes the
reversible transfer of phosphate between the 1- and 6-positions of glu-
cose and therefore the interconversion of glucose 6-phosphate and
glucose 1-phosphate. This isoenzyme requires a divalent metal ion
(predominantly Mg
) for activity. Human PGM1 is a highly polymor-
phic protein. The locus encoding this isoenzyme exhibits a very high in-
cidence of allelic variation in all populations and has been an important
anchor point for linkage analysis and for positioning markers on human
chromosome 1p [16]. Phosphoglucomutase-1 deciency (GSD XIV). In 2009, congenital
deciency of PGM1 was identied in a 35-year-old man who presented
Table 1
Congenital disorders of glycogen metabolism.
Glycogen storage disease Protein Gene Location Inheritance Main consequence
0 (Hepatic glycogen synthase
Liver isoenzyme of glycogen synthase GYS2 12p12.2 Autosomal recessive Reduction of glycogen synthesis in the
0 (Muscle glycogen synthase
Muscle isoenzyme of glycogen
GYS1 19q13.3 Undened Reduction of glycogen synthesis in
I (Glucose 6-phosphatase system deciency or von Gierke disease): Ia and Ib
Ia Glucose 6-phosphatase catalytic-1
G6PC1 17q21 Autosomal recessive Glycogen accumulation in liver and
Ib Glucose 6-phosphate translocase
SLC37A4 11q23 Autosomal recessive Neutropenia and glycogen accumulation
in liver and kidney
Glucose 6-phosphatase catalytic-3
deciency is a glycosylation
Glucose 6-phosphatase catalytic-3
G6PC3 17q21.31 Autosomal recessive Congenital neutropenia type 4 with no
glycogen accumulation
II (Lysosomal acid α-glucosidase or
Pompe disease)
Lysosomal acid α-glucosidase or acid
maltase (GAA)
GAA 17q25.2q25.3 Autosomal recessive Glycogen accumulation in lysosomes
Danon disease Lysosome-associated membrane
LAMP2 Xq24 X-linked dominant Similar to Pompe disease with normal
GAA activity
III (Glycogen debranching enzyme
deciency or CoriForbes disease)
Glycogen debranching enzyme (AGL) AGL 1p21 Autosomal recessive Accumulation of abnormal glycogen in
liver, heart, and skeletal muscle
IV (Glycogen branching enzyme
deciency or Anderson disease)
Glycogen branching enzyme GBE1 3p14 Autosomal recessive Polyglucosan accumulation
V (Skeletal muscle glycogen
phosphorylase deciency or
McArdle disease)
Skeletal muscle isoenzyme of
glycogen phosphorylase (PYGM)
PYGM 11q13 Autosomal recessive Defective glycogenolysis in skeletal
VI (Liver glycogen phosphorylase
deciency or Hers disease)
Liver isoenzyme of glycogen
phosphorylase (PYGL)
PYGL 14q2122 Autosomal recessive Defective glycogenolysis in the liver.
VII (Phosphofructokinase-1
deciency or Tarui disease)
Phosphofructokinase-1 PFKM 12q13.3 Autosomal recessive Glycogen accumulation in skeletal
Glycogen phosphorylase kinase deciency: GSD VIII, GSD IXa, GSD IXb, GSD IXc and cardiac phosphorylase deciency
VIII (Skeletal muscle glycogen
phosphorylase kinase deciency)
Skeletal muscle isoform of the
α-subunit of glycogen phosphorylase
kinase (PHKA1)
PHKA1 Xq12q13 X-linked recessive Defective glycogenolysis in skeletal
IXa (Liver glycogen phosphorylase
kinase deciency)
Liver isoform of the α-subunit of
glycogen phosphorylase kinase
PHKA2 Xp22.13 X-linked recessive Defective glycogenolysis in the liver.
IXb (β-Subunit of glycogen
phosphorylase kinase deciency)
β-subunit of glycogen phosphorylase
kinase (PHKB)
PHKB 16q12q13 Autosomal recessive Defective glycogenolysis in liver and
skeletal muscle.
IXc (Liver isoform of the γ-subunit of
glycogen phosphorylase kinase
Liver isoform of the γ-subunit of
glycogen phosphorylase kinase
PHKG2 16p12.1p11.2 Autosomal recessive Defective glycogenolysis in the liver.
Cardiac glycogen phosphorylase
kinase deciency
Cardiac glycogen phosphorylase
Defective glycogenolysis in the heart.
X (Skeletal muscle phosphoglycerate
mutase deciency)
Skeletal muscle phosphoglycerate
PGAM2 7p13p12 Autosomal recessive Exercise intolerance with near-normal
glycogen content in skeletal muscle
XI (FanconiBickel disease) Glucose transporter-2 GLUT2 3q26.1q26.3 Autosomal recessive Altered glucose entry and exit from cells
XI Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) A
Isoenzyme A of LDH LDHA 11p15.4 Autosomal recessive Exercise intolerance
XII (Aldolase A deciency) Aldolase A ALDOA 16p11.2 Undened Exercise intolerance with no glycogen
accumulation in skeletal muscle
XIII (β-enolase or enolase-3
Enolase-3 (β-Enolase) ENO3 17p13.2 Undened Exercise intolerance with near-normal
glycogen in skeletal muscle
XIV (Phosphoglucomutase-1
Phosphoglucomutase-1 PGM1 1p31 Likely autosomal
Impairment of liver and muscle glucose
Glucokinase deciency
(Maturity-onset diabetes type II)
Glucokinase GCK 7p15.3p15.1 Autosomal dominant Reduction of glycogen synthesis in the
Glycogenin-1 deciency Glycogenin-1 GYG1 3q25.1 Likely autosomal
Reduction of glycogen synthesis in
γ-2 subunit of 5'adenosine
monophosphate-activated protein
kinase (AMPK) deciency
γ-2 subunit of AMPK (PRKAG2) PRKAG2 7q36.1 Undened Non-physiological AMPK activation and
secondary polyglucosan accumulation
Lafora disease Laforin EPM2A 6q24 Autosomal recessive Polyglucosan accumulation
Malin EPM2B 6p22.3
PRDM8 PRDM8 4q21.21
89M.M. Adeva-Andany et al. / BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100
with exercise intolerance including cramps and rhabdomyolysis, basal
elevated creatine kinase level, and hyperammonemia with normal lac-
tate elevation on a forearm exercise test. Molecular analysis of the
PGM1 gene revealed two heterozygous mutations and it was proposed
that PGM1 deciency should be designated glycogenosis type XIV
[18]. Fasting intolerance with hypoglycemia also occurs in patients
with PGM1 deciency [19]. More recently, congenital deciency of
PGM1 due to recessive mutations in the PGM1 gene has been associated
with a congenital disorder of glycosylation with a broad range of clinical
manifestations that include hepatopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, and
cardiac arrest, in addition to fasting hypoglycemia and myopathy. The
mechanism underlying defective glycosylation due to PGM1 deciency
is poorly understood [20]. A prospective multicenter trial is ongoing to
evaluate the efcacy of D-galactose intake in PGM1 deciency, since a
few patients with this disease have shown some improvement after
D-galactose supplementation [21].
2.3.2. Phosphoglucomutase-3 (PGM3)
In 2002, human genes AGM1 and PGM3, encoding N-acetyl-
glucosamine phosphate mutase-1 (AGM1) and phosphoglucomutase-
3, respectively, were found to be identical, both mapping to chromo-
some 6. AGM1 (PGM3) catalyzes the reversible conversion between N-
acetylglucosamine 6-phosphate and N-acetylglucosamine 1-phosphate.
N-acetylglucosamine 1-phosphate is required for the biosynthesis of
UDP-N-acetylglucosamine, an essential precursor for glycosylation of
proteins and lipids [22]. Autosomal recessive mutations in the PGM3
locus have been associated with a congenital disorder of glycosylation
characterized by widespread clinical manifestations, including atopy
with increased serum IgE levels, immune deciency with recurrent
bacterial and viral infections, immune-mediated disorders, and motor
and neurocognitive impairment likely associated with hypomyelination
2.4. Formation of uridine 5ʹ-diphosphate-glucose: UDP-glucose pyrophos-
phorylase or glucose 1-phosphate uridyltransferase
The next step in the synthesis of glycogen is the formation of UDP-
glucose from glucose 1-phosphate, catalyzed by the enzyme UDP-
glucose pyrophosphorylase (UGP). This enzyme catalyzes the reversible
formation of UDP-glucose and pyrophosphate from uridine 5ʹ-triphos-
phate (UTP) and glucose 1-phosphate in the presence of Mg
. UDP-
glucose is the immediate glucose donor for the synthesis of glycogen,
supplying glucose residues for the initiation and the elongation of the
glycogen particle. In addition, UDP-glucose is involved in the synthesis
of UDP glucuronides, which facilitates the excretion of endogenous
compounds such as bilirubin and foreign molecules such as acetamino-
phen by converting them into more polar metabolites. The crystal struc-
ture of the human UGP has been determined, revealing that this enzyme
adopts an octameric structure [25].
In human tissues, the enzyme UGP has been identied in all organs
tested, with the highest levels in skeletal muscle, followed by liver,
heart, and kidney [26]. Two isoenzymes of UGP are known in humans,
UGP1 and UGP2. UGP1 is coded by a gene located on chromosome
1q21q23 [27]. The human gene coding for UGP2 has been assigned
to chromosome 2p13p14 [28].
Fig. 5. Glycolytic pathway and glycogen storage diseases.
90 M.M. Adeva-Andany et al. / BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100
2.5. Initiation of glycogen synthesis: glycogenin
Glycogenin is a glycosyltransferase that catalyzes the transfer of glu-
cose residues from UDP-glucose to itself, forming α-1,4-glycosidic link-
ages to create a linear glucose polymer of approximately 1020 glucose
moieties. This oligosaccharide chain is the base for the subsequent syn-
thesis of glycogen that proceeds by the combined action of glycogen
synthase and glycogen branching enzyme [29]. In humans, there
are two isoforms of glycogenin, glycogenin-1 and glycogenin-2.
Glycogenin-1 is encoded by the GYG1 gene, located to chromosome
3q25.1. This gene is predominantly expressed in skeletal muscle and
heart and toa lesser extent in lung, kidney, brain, pancreas, and placen-
ta. Glycogenin-1 has not been identied in the liver [30].GYG2 gene en-
codes glycogenin-2 and is primarily expressed in the human liver [31].
In 2010 congenital deciency of glycogenin-1 due to biallelic muta-
tions in the GYG1 gene was reported in one patient affected with cardio-
myopathy, cardiac arrhythmia, and muscle weakness. Echocardiography
showed increased posterior-wall thickness and cardiac magnetic reso-
nance imaging revealed increased left ventricular mass. Muscle biopsy
showed decit of glycogen in the muscle bers with mitochondrial
proliferation. Endomyocardial biopsy revealed hypertrophic cardio-
myocytes containing large vacuoles lled with an unidentied periodic
acid-Schiff (PAS)-positive material that was removed by treatment
with α-amylase. Electron microscopy examination showed glycogen de-
pletion in the cytoplasm. There was accumulation of unglycosylated
glycogenin-1 protein in the skeletal muscle and the heart, but glycosylat-
ed glycogenin was not detected. Congenital inactivation of muscle
glycogenin-1 in this patient resulted in impaired priming of glycogen
synthesis and secondary glycogen depletion in heart and skeletal muscle,
with a clinical phenotype of cardiomyopathy and muscle weakness [32].
In 2014, congenital deciency of glycogenin-1 due to homozygous or
compound heterozygous deleterious variants in the glycogenin-1 gene
was reported in 7 adult patients affected with myopathy. In skeletal mus-
cle, 3040% of the bers showed inclusions lled with PAS-positive ma-
terial that had a variable degree of digestion by α-amylase treatment
2.6. Elongation of the linear glycogen chain: glycogen synthase
Glycogen synthase is a glycosyltransferasethat catalyzes the elonga-
tion of the glycogen chain by incorporating glycosyl residues from UDP-
glucose to the growing glycogen strand, forming α-1,4-glycosidic link-
ages with the release of UDP. This enzyme connects the carbon-1 of
the donor glucose from UDP-glucose to the carbon-4 of glycogen [34].
There are two isoenzymes of glycogen synthase in humans, GYS1
and GYS2, encoded by the genes GYS1 and GYS2, respectively. GYS1 is
the isoform present in skeletal muscle and heart while GYS2 is the
liver isoenzyme. Human GYS1 has been assigned to chromosome
19q13.3 [35] while human GYS2 is located to 12p12.2 [36].
2.6.1. Muscle glycogen synthase deciency (muscle GSD 0)
Loss of function mutations in the GYS1 gene has been described in
two families and cause inherited deciency of the muscle isoenzyme
of glycogen synthase, leading to glycogen depletion in skeletal muscle
and the heart resulting in myopathy and cardiomyopathy with exercise
intolerance, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and sudden cardiac arrest.
Some patients with muscle GSD 0 have long QT. Glycogen synthase ac-
tivity in cultured skin broblasts is reduced in the affected patients com-
pared to controls and skeletal muscles show depletion of glycogen
stores and increased number of mitochondria [37].
2.6.2. Liver glycogen synthase deciency (liver GSD 0)
Mutations in the GYS2 gene cause an autosomal recessive disease
due to hepatic glycogen synthase deciency. After meals, the inability
to store glucose as glycogen in the liver leads to postprandial hypergly-
cemia, glucosuria, andhyperlactatemia. In addition, the inability to store
glycogen in the liver leads to fasting hypoglycemia and ketone forma-
tion. Frequent measurements of blood glucose, lactate, and ketones in
both the fed and fasting states (24-h metabolic prole) show the char-
acteristic biochemical disturbances. In liver biopsy samples, hepatocytes
contain small amounts of glycogen and show moderate steatosis. Symp-
toms of GSD type 0 might be ameliorated with frequent (every 4 h)
protein-rich meals and bedtime feeding of uncooked cornstarch.
Protein-rich meals may provide the substrate for gluconeogenesis and
a lower content of dietary carbohydrate reduces postprandial hypergly-
cemia, glycosuria, and lactic acidemia [38]. Glycogen synthase regulation. The regulatory mechanisms that
modulate the activity of glycogen synthase in humans differ partially
in liver and muscle, as these two glycogen depots carry out different
functions. Reversible phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of glyco-
gen synthase is a major determinant of its activity. Phosphorylation is
catalyzed by kinases and leads to inactivation of the enzyme. Dephos-
phorylation of glycogen synthase is catalyzed by phosphatases and re-
sults in activation of the enzyme. In addition, glycogen synthase
activityis stimulated by glucose6-phosphate and inhibited by increased
glycogen concentration. Glycogen synthase activity is also coordinated
with glycogen phosphorylase activity, the enzyme that releases glucose
1-phosphate residues from the linear chain of glycogen, in order to
achieve either glycogen synthesis or glycogen degradation.
2.6.3. Glycogen synthase kinases
Glycogen synthase phosphorylation and subsequent inactivation by
kinases is a complex and insufciently characterized process in humans
involving multiple phosphorylation sites and several kinases, including
5ʹAMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) [39]. Congenitaldeciency of the γ-2 subunit of AMPK. AMPK consists of
three subunits, α,β,andγ.Theα-subunit contains the catalytic site, the
β-subunit binds glycogen, and the γ-subunit is composed of two regu-
latory components (γ-1 and γ-2) that bind AMP and ATP. AMPK is acti-
vated by an increase in the intracellular concentration of AMP and
calcium (Ca
). The activation of this kinase enhances oxidative metab-
olism to produce ATP while inhibiting biosynthetic pathways such as
glycogen synthesis (via phosphorylation and subsequent inactivation
of glycogen synthase) [39].
Mutations in the PRKAG2 gene, that encodes the γ-2 subunit of
AMPK, induce accumulation of abnormal glycogen in the heart,
underlining the relationship between AMPK and glycogen metabolism
in humans. In 2001, mutations in the PRKAG2 gene, located to chromo-
some 7q36.1, were described in two families with severe familial hyper-
trophic cardiomyopathy and conduction system abnormalities in the
heart [40].
Histopathology of cardiac specimens from affected patients demon-
strated large cytosolic vacuoles inside the cardiomyocytes lled with
polyglucosan material, which is an amylopectin-like material composed
of PAS-positive glucose polymers variably resistant to digestion by α-
amylase that evokes abnormally structured glycogen. The biochemical
mechanism underlying the formation of this material remains unde-
ned [41]. Ablation of atrioventricular accessory pathways caused by
mutationsin the PRKAG2 gene is not usually effective to correctconduc-
tion system abnormalities [42].
2.6.4. Glycogen synthase phosphatases: protein phosphatase-1
Protein phosphatase-1 (PP1) catalyzes the dephosphorylation and
subsequent activation of glycogen synthase, promoting glycogen syn-
thesis. Insulin activates PP1 and this could be at least in part the mech-
anism by whichthis hormone enhances glycogen synthesis in liver and
skeletal muscle. PP1 is composed of a catalytic subunit bound to a regu-
latory subunit thatmodulates the catalytic action of PP1 by targeting the
protein to particular subcellular locations and specic substrates. The
glycogen targeting subunits of PP1 are regulatory components of the
91M.M. Adeva-Andany et al. / BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100
phosphatase that steer the protein to glycogen. Several glycogen
binding subunits of PP1 have been reported in humans, including
PPP1R3, PPP1R4, PPP1R5, and PPP1R6, encoded by the genes PPP1R3A,
PPP1R3B,PPP1R3C,andPPP1R3D, respectively [43] (Table 2).
2.6.5. Effect of glucose 6-phosphate on hepatic glycogen synthase activity
Glucose 6-phosphate is an allosteric activator of glycogen synthase.
Simultaneously, glucose 6-phosphate converts the enzyme into a better
substrate for protein phosphatases, which lead to the covalent activa-
tion of glycogen synthase [34].
2.6.6. Balanced control of glycogen phosphorylase and glycogen synthase
The reciprocal control between glycogen synthase and glycogen
phosphorylase is mainly accomplishedby PP1 which activates glycogen
synthase (by dephosphorylation of the enzyme) and simultaneously in-
activates glycogen phosphorylase (Fig. 6). Similarly, insulin inhibits gly-
cogen phosphorylase inducing a simultaneous activation of glycogen
synthase and this may be a component of the mechanism by which in-
sulin promotes hepatic glycogen synthesis [43].
2.7. Branching of the glycogen particle: glycogen branching enzyme
Glycogen branching enzyme catalyzes the transfer of a glycosyl
chain of 6 to 8 units to the glycogen thread forming an α-1,6 linkage
and making glycogen a multi-branched polymer. The human gene
that encodes the glycogen branching enzyme (GBE1)hasbeenmapped
to chromosome 3p14 [44].
2.7.1. Glycogen branching enzyme deciency or Andersen disease (GSD IV)
Mutations in the gene that encodes the glycogen branching enzyme
cause amylopectinosis, Andersen disease or GSD type IV [44]. Congeni-
tal deciency of glycogen branching enzyme is an autosomal recessive
disorder that leads to intracytoplasmatic accumulation of abnormally
branched glycogen resembling amylopectin (polyglucosan) in multiple
tissues, including liver, heart, skeletal muscle, and the nervous system.
Intracytoplasmic polyglucosan deposits in spleen, bone marrow, and
lymph nodes have been observed in one female infant patient [45].
Amylopectinosis may result in a variable clinical phenotype, including
neurological, hepatic, musculoskeletal, and cardiac manifestations
such as dilated cardiomyopathy and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
[46]. Rarely, mild proteinuria, stroke-like episodes and hypohydrosis
may suggest Fabry's disease diagnosis in patients with GSD type IV
[47]. Prenatal history includes polyhydramnios, fetal hydrops, and re-
duced fetal movements during pregnancy. The newborn usually pre-
sents with cardiomyopathy and profound muscular hypotonia leading
to respiratory distress that requires mechanical ventilation. In early
childhood, patients with glycogen branching enzyme deciency usually
develop liver dysfunction and progressive liver cirrhosis that may
require liver transplantation. Some patients experience muscle weak-
ness and dilated cardiomyopathy. The late-onset variant of glycogen
branching enzyme deciency is known as adult polyglucosan body dis-
ease (APBD). Most APBD patients with glycogen branching enzyme de-
ciency are of Askenazi Jewish ancestry [48]. APBD is a condition that
affects predominantly the nervous system. A multinational study of
the natural history of APBD shows that the most common clinical nd-
ings are neurogenic bladder (100%), spastic paraplegia with vibration
loss (90%), and axonal neuropathy (90%). As the disease progresses,
mild cognitive decline may affect up to half of the patients. APBDis char-
acterized by leukodystrophy on brain MRI. Atrophy of the medulla and
spine is universal [49].APBD may produce acute neurological symptoms
mimicking stroke in the absence of cardiovascular risk factors [50].
2.8. Laforin, malin, and PRDM8
Laforin is a phosphatase that belongs to the dual-specicity phos-
phatase family, which is able to dephosphorylate serine and threonine
residues in addition to tyrosine [51]. Human laforin is a dimeric struc-
ture with a carbohydrate binding subunit and a phosphatase domain.
A cleft formed between these two components allows the binding of
the substrate and the subsequent catalytic activity of the enzyme [52].
Laforin is encoded by the gene EPM2A located on chromosome 6q24
[53]. Malin is a protein encoded by the EPM2B (NHLRC1)gene,located
on chromosome 6p22.3 [54]. It has been reported that malin is an E3
ubiquitin ligase that ubiquitinates laforin to be degraded [51].The
gene PRDM8 on chromosome 4q21.21 encodes a protein named
PRDM8 that translocates laforin and malin to the nucleus, leading to de-
ciency of their activity in the cytoplasm [55].
2.8.1. Lafora disease
The function of laforin, malin, and PRDM8 remains elusive, but their
link to human glycogen metabolism is highlighted by Lafora disease, an
autosomal recessive disorder characterized by progressive myoclonus
epilepsy caused by mutations in the genes EPM2A,EPM2B,orPRDM8.
Patients with Lafora disease show cytoplasmic accumulation of
polyglucosan in several tissues, including liver, skeletal muscle, heart,
skin, kidney, and brain (neurons), although clinical manifestations are
restricted to the nervous system [52].
3. Glycogen degradation
Glycogen breakdown may occur both in the cytoplasm and inside
the lysosomes. Mutations in the genes coding the enzymes involved in
either of the two pathways of degradation may cause congenital disor-
ders of glycogen metabolism.
3.1. Glycogen degradation in the cytosol
Glycogen breakdown in the cytosol is catalyzed by the coordinated
action of two enzymes, glycogen phosphorylase and glycogen
debranching enzyme. Glycogen phosphorylase releases glucose 1-
phosphate from a linear glycogen chain, but the action of this enzyme
is blocked when it reaches four glucose residues from the glycogen
branch point (called the limit dextrin) and complete glycogen degrada-
tion requires the activity of the glycogen debranching enzyme to untie
the branch points [56].
Table 2
Glycogen targeting subunits of protein phosphatase-1 (PP1).
Glycogen binding subunit of PP1 Gene Human tissue distribution
PPP1R3 PPP1R3A Skeletal muscle
PPP1R4 PPP1R3B Skeletal muscle, liver
PPP1R5 PPP1R3C Skeletal muscle, liver, heart
PPP1R6 PPP1R3D Skeletal muscle, heart, other tissues
Fig. 6. Protein phosphatase-1 (PP1).
92 M.M. Adeva-Andany et al. / BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100
3.1.1. Glycogen phosphorylase
Glycogen phosphorylase liberates glucose 1-phosphate from a linear
glycogen chain by unfastening the α-1,4 glycosidic bonds. There are
three isoenzymes of glycogen phosphorylase in humans, muscle, liver,
and brain isoforms, encoded by separate genes, named PYGM,PYGL,
and PYGB respectively [56]. The brain isoform is present in brain, heart
and liver. In the nervous system, this isoenzyme is found predominantly
in astrocytes and weakly in neurons [57]. The locus encoding the brain
isoenzyme has been mapped to chromosome 20 [58].Congenitalde-
ciency of the skeletalmuscle and liver isoforms of glycogen phosphory-
lase cause defective glycogenolysis in skeletal muscle and liver,
respectively. Skeletal muscle glycogen phosphorylase deciency or McArdle's dis-
ease (GSD V). GSD type V (McArdle disease) is an autosomal recessive
disorder caused by diminished glycogen phosphorylase activity in skel-
etal muscle due to mutations in the gene encoding the skeletal muscle
isoform of glycogen phosphorylase (PYGM)onchromosome11q13.In
patients with McArdle disease defectiveglycogenolysis in skeletal mus-
cle limits glucose availability when muscle contraction is initiated, in-
ducing fatigue, cramps, and a rise in heart rate out of proportion of the
work load. After a few minutes, fatigue and heart rate spontaneously
subside and McArdle patients experience an improvement in exercise
tolerancecalled the second wind phenomenon that has been attributed
to the utilization by active muscle of other substrates, such as blood-
borne glucose, lactate [59], free fatty acids [60], and branched-chain
amino acids [61]. In addition to exercise intolerance, patients with
McArdle disease mayexperience resting elevation of serum creatine ki-
nase concentration and recurrent episodes of rhabdomyolysis and
myoglobinuria induced by exercise [62].
A Cochrane review nds no conclusive evidence of clinical benet
associated with the use of a carbohydrate-rich diet in patients with
GSD type V [63]. A ketogenic diet instituted in one patient improved ex-
ercise tolerance [3]. Supplements of branched-chain keto acids have
been suggested while branched-chain amino acids deteriorate exercise
performance [61]. Liver glycogen phosphorylase deciency or Hers disease (GSD VI).
GSD type VI (Hers disease) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused
by loss of glycogen phosphorylase activity in the liver owing to muta-
tions in the gene that encodes the liver isoform of glycogen phosphory-
lase (PYGL) on chromosome 14q2122 [64].
Hers disease is an uncommon disorder that usually leads to a mild
clinical phenotype including fasting ketotic hypoglycemia, lactic
acidemia, hepatomegaly, and growth retardation. Elevation of serum
glucose in response to glucagon is absent. Hepatic nodular hyperplasia
and left ventricular and septal hypertrophy occur rarely in patients
with Hers disease. Treatment is directed toward avoiding prolonged
fasting and ingestion of a bedtime snack to avoid early morning hypo-
glycemia [65]. Regulation of glycogen phosphorylase. The activity of glycogen
phosphorylase is controlled by allosteric effectors and by reversible
phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of the enzyme. Glucose 6-
phosphate and UDP-glucose inhibit the enzyme [66]. Liver and muscle
glycogen phosphorylase isoenzymes differ in their responsiveness to
regulatory mechanisms. Muscle glycogen phosphorylase is strongly ac-
tivated by AMP [67] and by an increase in glycogen concentration in
muscle [68].
In the human liver, glucagon is an effective activator of glycogen
phosphorylase likely via an increase in the level of 3ʹ5ʹ-adenosine
monophosphate or cyclic-AMP (cAMP) [69].
Dephosphorylation of glycogen phosphorylase inactivates the en-
zyme and is catalyzedby PP1 whereas phosphorylation activates the en-
zyme and is catalyzed by glycogen phosphorylase kinase (PHK). PHK
is composed of four subunits (α,β,γ,andδ) with stoichiometry
α4β4γ4δ4. The γ-subunit contains the catalytic site while the α-
and β-subunits have a regulatory role in the activation of glycogen
phosphorylase. The δ-subunit is calmodulin and confers calcium sensi-
tivity to the kinase. PHK promotes glycogen breakdown releasing glu-
cose in response to increases in cellular calcium and cAMP [70,71].
The α-subunit of glycogen phosphorylase kinase (PHKA) has two iso-
forms, muscle (PHKA1) and liver (PHKA2), encoded by two separate
genes, PHKA1 and PHKA2, respectively, which are located on Xq12
q13 and Xp22.13, respectively. The β-subunit (PHKB) is encoded by a
single gene, PHKB, located on chromosome 16q12q13. Alternative
splicing generates muscle, liver, and brain tissue specic transcripts.
The γ-subunit of glycogen phosphorylase kinase (PHKG) has two
isoforms, muscle (PHKG1) and liver (PHKG2), encoded by two different
genes, PHKG1 and PHKG2, respectively, which are located to 7p11.2 and
16p12.1p11.2, respectively. The δ-subunit of PHK or calmodulin is
ubiquitously expressed, being encoded by three independent genes,
CALM1,CALM2, and CALM3. Unlike α,β, and γ-subunits, deciency of
PHK has not been associated with mutations in the genes encoding cal-
modulin [71,72]. Glycogen phosphorylase kinase deciency (GSD VIII and GSD IX).
Molecular changes in most subunits of PHK cause defective activity of
the kinase in the specic tissues where the subunit is distributed,
impairing the release of glucose from glycogen in those tissues. Muta-
tions in the PHKA1 gene that codes the skeletal muscle isoform of the
α-subunit of PHK cause phosphorylase kinase deciency in the skeletal
muscle (GSD type VIII). Mutations in thePHKA2,PHKB,andPH KG2 genes
cause GSD IXa, GSD IXb, and GSD IXc, respectively. Mutations in the
PHKA2 gene that encodes the liver isoform of the α-subunit of PHK
cause phosphorylase kinase deciency in the liver (GSD IXa). Mutations
in the PHKB gene that encodes the β-subunit of PHK cause deciency of
the kinase in both liver and skeletal muscle (GSD IXb). Mutations in the
PHKG2 gene that encodes the liver isoform of the γ-subunit of PHK in-
duce deciency of the enzyme in the liver (GSD IXc) [70,71] (Table 3).
Mutations in the PHKG1 gene encoding the muscle isoform of the γ-
subunit of PHK have not been reported. Glycogen phosphorylase kinase deciency due to mutations in the
PHKA1 gene (GSD VIII). Congenital deciency of the skeletal muscle iso-
form of the α-subunit of PHK(PHKA1) isan X-linked disorder that leads
to an impairment of glycogen breakdown in skeletal muscle by reducing
glycogenphosphorylase activation. GSD VIII is usually a mild myopathy
with slight elevation of plasma creatine kinase concentration and mus-
cle glycogen content [72]. Mutations in the PHKA1 gene may also result
in cognitive impairment with no apparent myopathy [73]. Glycogen phosphorylase kinase deciency due to mutations in the
PHKA2 gene (GSD IXa). Congenital deciency of the liver isoform of the
α-subunit of PHK (PHKA2) is an X-linked disorder that results in defec-
tive glycogenolysis in the liver clinically characterized by fasting intoler-
ance with ketotic hypoglycemia, hepatomegaly, chronic liver disease,
and growth retardation. Patients harboring mutations in the PHKA2
gene display a wide spectrum of clinical severity. Frequent doses of un-
cooked cornstarchand protein supplementation have been suggested to
treat patients with GSD type IXa [71].
Table 3
Glycogen phosphorylase kinase (PHK) subunits.
PHK subunit Gene Glycogen storage disease Glycogenolysis defect
α-1 (Muscle isoform) PHKA1 VIII Skeletal muscle
α-2 (Liver isoform) PHKA2 IXa Liver
βPHKB IXb Liver and muscle
γ-1 (Muscle isoform) PHKG1 No mutations reported
γ-2 (Liver isoform) PHKG2 IXc Liver
93M.M. Adeva-Andany et al. / BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100 Glycogen phosphorylase kinase deciency due to mutations in
the PHKB gene (GSD IXb). Mutations in the PHKB gene that encodes the
β-subunit of PHK cause an autosomal recessive disease characterized
by deciency of the enzyme in both liver and skeletal muscle leading
to defective glycogenolysis in both tissues [70]. Patients with mutations
in the PHKB gene usually exhibit a mild clinical phenotype, including
hypoglycemia after prolonged fasting, hepatomegaly, and mild muscle
hypotonia [71]. Glycogen phosphorylase kinase deciency due to mutations in the
PHKG2 gene (GSD IXc). Congenital deciency of the liver isoform of the
γ-subunit of PHK (PHKG2) cause an autosomal recessive disease with
variable clinical phenotype ranging from mild disease characterized by
tendency to hypoglycemia to liver brosis that may p rogress to liver cir-
rhosis during childhood. Hepatic adenomas have been occasionally re-
ported [70,71]. Congenital deciency of cardiac glycogen phosphorylase kinase.
Congenital deciency of PHK in the heart has been rarely reported, like-
ly because affected patients usually die of progressive hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy during early infancy. Accumulation of normally struc-
tured glycogen is identied in the heart due to defective glycogenolysis.
PHK activity is reduced in the heart while near-normal activity is usually
observed in liver and skeletal muscle [74,75].
3.1.2. Glycogen debranching enzyme
After glycogen phosphorylase has released the outer glucose 1-
phosphate moieties from the glycogen chain, four glycosyl residues
remain attached to the branch point and the action of glycogen
debranching enzyme (AGL) is required to untangle the branch points.
AGL is a monomeric protein that possesses two catalytic activities on a
single polypeptide chain, α-1,4-glucanotransferase and amylo-α-1,6-
glucosidase, in order to catalyze the removal of branching from glyco-
gen via a two-step process. First, the transferase activity relocates
three glucose residues from the lateralthread that containsfour glucose
moieties to another linear strand. Second, the glucosidase activity hy-
drolyzes the α-1-6-glycosidic bond of the branch-point, liberating glu-
cose and permitting the access of glycogen phosphorylase to the α-1,4
linkages [76].
The human gene encoding AGL has been mapped to chromosome
1p21 and its structural organization has been reported [77]. Mutations
in the AGL gene that affect the carbohydrate binding domain of the en-
zyme impair its ability to bind glycogen and induce loss of both transfer-
ase and glucosidase activities. Mutations in other locations of the AGL
gene may deteriorate either glucosidase or transferase activities [78].
Glycogen debranching enzyme has been identied as a prognostic
marker in patients with bladder cancer, low AGL expression indicating
aggressive disease [79]. Glycogen debranching enzyme deciency or CoriForbes disease
(GSD III). Congenital deciency of glycogen debrancher is an autosomal
recessive disorder characterized by defective debranching of glycogen
that results in accumulation of anabnormally structured glycogen in af-
fected tissues, including liver, skeletal muscle, and heart [76]. Clinical
manifestations of GSD type III affect predominantly to the liver, skeletal
muscle, and heart. Most patients with GSD type III show both myopathy
and hepatopathy (GSD type IIIa) whereas approximately 15% have only
liver involvement without evidence of cardiomyopathy or myopathy
(GSD type IIIb). In rare cases, there is selective loss of only one of the
two enzyme activities. When the glucosidase activity is lacking, the dis-
ease is called GSD type IIIc whereas patients with GSD type IIId display
AGL transferase deciency with normal glucosidase activity [80].Liver
involvement is characterized by hepatomegaly and liver cirrhosis. He-
patic adenoma may develop and hepatocellular carcinoma may be a
complication. Intolerance to fasting with ketotic hypoglycemia also oc-
curs and may resemble the clinical phenotype of fatty acid oxidation
disorders with increased plasma concentration of medium-chain fatty
acids, predominantly C8 and C10 [81].
In patients with GSD type III, defective glycogen debranchingin skel-
etal muscle leads to muscle weakness and reduced exercise capacity
[82]. During exercise, the oxidation of glucose in skeletal muscle is
lower while oxidation of fattyacids is higher in these patients compared
to healthy subjects [83].Deciency of AGL in the heart produces cardio-
myopathy that echocardiographically mimics idiopathic hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy [84]. In order to avoid hypoglycemia, frequent meals
high in carbohydrate with uncooked cornstarch supplements may be
implemented. A ketogenic diet has been used in some patients with
GSD type III [3]. Fructose ingestion improves exercise tolerance in
these patients [85].
3.2. Glycogen degradation in the lysosomes: lysosomal acid α-glucosidase
Glycogenmay be deposited inside the lysosomes via autophagic vac-
uoles that enclose a fraction of the cytoplasm and fuse with these organ-
elles in order to process their content. Inside the lysosomes glycogen is
hydrolyzed to glucose by the enzyme acid α-1,4-glucosidase, 1,4-α-glu-
can hydrolase or acid maltase (GAA). It is generally accepted that this
enzyme primarily hydrolyzes 1,4-linked α-glucose polymers, being un-
clear the way in which the branch points of lysosomal glycogen are
untangled. Human GAA undergoes post-translational processing to be-
come the functional enzyme present inside the lysosomes, a glycopro-
tein containing N-linked carbohydrate chains [86]. The enzyme is
initially translated as a precursor polypeptide of 110 kDa that displays
seven potential glycosylation sites in its primarystructure. N-linked gly-
cosylation of GAA occurs in the endoplasmic reticulum by attachment of
carbohydrate side chains to asparagine residues in the protein precur-
sor. Some of the carbohydrate chains attached to the GAA precursor
are phosphorylated. The phosphorylation of mannose residues to form
mannose 6-phosphate targets the GAA precursor to the lysosomes.
The maturation of GAA involves additional proteolytic processing at
both the amino- and carboxyl-terminal ends, resulting in a 95 kDa inter-
mediate form and nally in the formation of two lysosomal species of 76
and 70 kDa which are considered to represent the mature species of the
enzyme [87].
3.2.1. Lysosomal α-glucosidase (acid maltase) deciency or Pompe disease
The gene encoding human GAA (GAA) is located on chromosome
17q25.2-q25.3. Mutations in the GAA locus cause GSD type II or
Pompe disease, an autosomal recessive disorder due to congenital de-
ciency of functional GAA characterized by accumulation of glycogen in
the lysosomes primarily of muscle tissue, includingskeletal muscle, car-
diac muscle, and smooth muscle [88]. Clinical manifestations of Pompe
disease involve predominantly skeletal muscle and heart. The infantile
form usually appears in the rst month of life and progresses rapidly,
being characterized by severe cardiac involvement. The late-onset
(adult form) form is characterized by progressive muscle weakness
that may result in respiratory failure due to involvement of respiratory
muscles [89]. Adult patients withPompe disease show reduced peak ox-
idative capacity, but fat and carbohydrate oxidation in skeletal muscle
during exercise is similar to healthy subjects, suggesting that acid malt-
ase does not play a signicant role in the production of energy during
exercise. Intravenous glucose infusion failed to improve exercise toler-
ance in patients with Pompe disease [90]. Histopathologic ndings in
muscle biopsies obtained from late-onset patients reveal vacuolar de-
generation and glycogen granules in lysosomes of muscle cells. Autoph-
agic vacuoles are visible occasionally. Excess glycogen is also present in
the capillary wall of muscle and skin [91]. Adult patients with Pompe
disease typically exhibit milder clinical coursecompared to infantile pa-
tients [92]. Enzyme replacement therapy with human recombinant and
transgenic acid α-glucosidase is used in patients with Pompe disease,
94 M.M. Adeva-Andany et al. / BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100
although this therapy has some limitations, including the variability of
response among different tissues and the formation of neutralizing an-
tibodies. Gene therapy might be of benet in the future [93].L-alanine
has been assessed in a double blind placebo-controlled crossover
study in one patient with GSD type II. The patient showed no improve-
ment [94].
Exercisetraining has a positive effect on muscularstrength and func-
tional capacity in patients with late-onset Pompe disease [95]. Danon disease. Danon disease is an X-linked dominant condition
caused by mutations in the gene that encodes lysosome-associated
membrane protein-2 (LAMP2 gene), mapped to Xq24. Clinical manifes-
tations include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or dilated cardiomyopa-
thy and myopathy. Some patients also show intellectual disability. In
most cases, males experience earlier and more severe symptoms than
females. The pathogenesis of this disorder is mostly unknown but the
LAMP-2 protein may be involved in the fusion between autophagic vac-
uoles and lysosomes and mutations in the LAMP2 gene may impair the
process of transporting cellular material into the lysosome [96].
4. Glucose dephosphorylation: glucose 6-phosphatase system
Glucose 1-phosphate released from the glycogen chain undergoes
isomerization to glucose 6-phosphate by phosphoglucomutases. Glu-
cose 6-phosphate is then dephosphorylated to free glucose in order to
leave the cell. This reaction takes place in the endoplasmic reticulum
and is accomplished by the coordinated action of glucose 6-phosphate
translocase, that transports glucose 6-phosphate from the cytosol into
the endoplasmic reticulum, and glucose 6-phosphatase isoenzymes,
that catalyze the dephosphorylation of glucose 6-phosphate to free glu-
cose and inorganic phosphate [97].
4.1. Glucose 6-phosphate translocase or glucose 6-phosphate transporter
The transport of glucose 6-phosphate from the cytosol to the endo-
plasmic reticulum is accomplished by glucose 6-phosphate translocase
or glucose 6-phosphate transporter (G6PT), encoded by the gene
SLC37A4, mapped to human chromosome 11q23.
Human G6PT is an integral membrane protein that exchanges cyto-
plasmic glucose 6-phosphate for inorganic phosphate stored in the
lumen of endoplasmic reticulum. In human tissues, the G6PT transcript
is ubiquitously expressed, being detected in brain, heart, skeletal mus-
cle, placenta, spleen, liver, kidney, adrenal gland, lymph node, neutro-
phils, monocytes, intestine, and lung. Alternative splicing produces a
variant of G6PT specically expressed in the brain, heart, and skeletal
muscle [98].
4.2. Glucose 6-phosphatase isoenzymes
Three isoforms of glucose 6-phosphatase have been identied
in humans, namely glucose 6-phosphatase-1 (G6PC1), glucose 6-
phosphatase-2 (G6PC2), and glucose 6-phosphatase-3 (G6PC3).
G6PC1 is encoded by the G6PC1 gene, located on chromosome 17q21.
G6PC1 is a glycoprotein anchored in the membrane of the endoplasmic
reticulum with the active center facing into the lumen. It is generally ac-
cepted that the expression of G6PC1 is restricted to liver, kidney, and in-
testine [97]. G6PC2 is encoded by the G6PC2 gene, located on human
chromosome 2q28q32. G6PC2 is the pancreatic islet-specic isoform
of glucose 6-phosphatase, as the G6PC2 gene is expressed only in
human pancreas, other tissues being negative. The function of G6PC2
is unknown [99]. G6PC3 is encoded by the G6PC3 gene, located on
human chromosome 17q21.31. The G6PC3 gene is ubiquitously
expressed, although predominantly in brain, muscle, and kidney.
There is no expression of G6PC3 in the liver. The biologic role of
G6PC3 is poorly dened [97,100].
4.2.1. Glucose 6-phosphatase system deciency or von Gierke disease
GSD type I may be caused by congenital deciency of either glucose
6-phosphatase-1 which produce GSD type Ia or glucose 6-phosphate
translocase that cause GSD type Ib. GSD type Ia represents approximate-
ly 80% of patients with GSD type I.
4.2.2. Mutations in the G6PC1 gene (GSD Ia)
Mutations in the G6PC1 gene that encodes glucose 6-phosphatase-1
result in GSD type Ia, an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by
defective hydrolysis of glucose 6-phosphate to glucose which leads to
intracellular elevation of glucose 6-phosphate and inadequate release
of glucose to the blood stream. The inability to release glucose from
the liver during fasting induces fasting hypoglycemia. The intracellular
elevation of glucose 6-phosphate promotes alternative pathways of
glucose metabolism inducing excess formation of triglycerides, lactic
acid, and uric acid, leading to hypertriglyceridemia, lactic acidosis,
and hyperuricemia. Glycogen is accumulated in the liver, kidney,
and intestine. Hepatomegaly and hepatic adenomas that rarely evolve
to hepatocarcinoma may be present. Kidney manifestations are promi-
nent in this disease including kidney enlargement, glomerular
hyperltration, and proximal tubular dysfunction with glucosuria,
phosphaturia, aminoaciduria, hypokalemia, and β-2 microglobulinuria.
Chronic kidney failure may develop as a late complication. Kidney
stones composed of calcium oxalate or uric acid may occur. Some pa-
tients affected with GSD Ia suffer osteoporosis. Liver transplantation
may be benecial in selected patients with GSD Ia [100].
4.2.3. Mutations in the G6PT gene (GSD Ib)
Mutations in the G6PT gene that encodes glucose 6-phosphate
translocase cause GSD Ib, an autosomal recessive disorder due to the
failure totransport glucose6-phosphate into the lumen ofthe endoplas-
mic reticulum to be dephosphorylated. The metabolic phenotype of GSD
Ib is similar to that of GSD Ia. In addition, somepatients with GSD Ib de-
velop neutropenia and neutrophil dysfunction with tendency to bacte-
rial infections. The underlying cause of these alterations in GSD Ib is
unknown, but neutrophil functional impairment is reectedbyreduced
chemotaxis and respiratory burst [101]. Patients with GSD Ib are at risk
for inammatory bowel disease. Autoimmune endocrine disorders in-
cluding thyroiditis and growth hormone deciency may also occur
To prevent fasting hypoglycemia in patients with GSD I and meta-
bolic phenotype, frequent (every 34 h) oral uncooked cornstarch dur-
ing the day and at night or a continuous nasogastric infusion of glucose
is used [103]. A meta-analysis indicates that overnight intermittent ad-
ministration of uncooked cornstarch prevents nocturnal hypoglycemia
in GSD-Ia children more effectively than continuous nocturnal feeding
of dextrose. Waxy maize extended release cornstarch at bedtime to pre-
serve overnight glucose level has shown to improve the quality of life of
patients with GSD I while maintaining adequate metabolic control
4.2.4. Glucose 6-phosphatase catalytic-3 deciency
Mutations in the G6PC3 locus cause an autosomal recessive disorder
called severe congenital neutropenia type 4, characterized by congenital
neutropenia and neutrophil dysfunction, recurrent bacterial infections,
oral and intestinal mucosal ulcerations and inammatory intestinal
diseases,intermittent thrombocytopenia, facial dysmorphism, a promi-
nent supercial venous pattern, congenital heart defects, and urogenital
malformations. These patients do not suffer metabolic disturbance
Patientswith congenital deciency of either G6PC3 orG6PT exhibit a
severe defect in the synthesis of N- and O-glycans in the neutrophils,
showing a profound alteration on the N- and O-glycosylation proles
of these cells. The mechanism of this anomalous glycosylation isunclear,
but it is predicted to have a major negative effecton neutrophil function.
95M.M. Adeva-Andany et al. / BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100
It has been proposed that both severe congenital neutropenia type 4
(due to mutations in the G6PC3 gene) and GSD type Ib (due to muta-
tions in the G6PT gene) should be designated as a new class of congen-
ital disorders of glycosylation [106].
5. Glycogen storage diseases induced by congenital deciency of
glycolytic enzymes
The glycolytic pathway converts glucose into lactate being a major
catabolic pathway in glucose metabolism (Fig. 5). Defective glycolysis
might divert glucose utilization to other routes, including glycogen syn-
thesis. Congenital deciency of some enzymes involved in theglycolytic
pathway has been categorized as GSDs, although some of them do not
appear to induce a signicant disturbance on glycogen metabolism.
5.1. Phosphofructokinase deciency or Tarui disease (GSD VII)
GSD type VII (Tarui disease) is an autosomal recessive disorder due
to congenital deciency of phosphofructokinase-1 (PFK) in skeletal
muscle. Phosphofructokinase-1 catalyzes the phosphorylation of fruc-
tose 6-phosphate to fructose 1,6-bisphosphate in the glycolytic path-
way [107]. There are three isoenzymes of phosphofructokinase in
humans, muscle (M), liver (L) and platelet or broblast, encoded by
separate loci, mapping to 12q13.3, 21q22, and 10p15 respectively.
Human skeletal muscle expresses only the M isoenzymewhereas eryth-
rocytes express both the M and L isoforms [108]. The activity of
phosphofructokinase-1 in skeletal muscle is absent in patients affected
with Tarui disease while the activity of the enzyme in theliver is normal
and the activity in the erythrocyte is reduced by about 50%. Muscle
phosphofructokinase deciency is clinically characterized by exercise
intolerance associated with hemolytic anemia. Hypertrophic cardiomy-
opathy may occur. Muscle biopsy reveals lack of phosphofructokinase
activity and excessive glycogen storage in muscle bers [109]. A keto-
genic diet produced clinical improvement in a patient with phospho-
fructokinase deciency [3].
5.2. Phosphoglycerate mutase deciency (GSD X)
Phosphoglycerate mutase (PGAM) catalyzes the interconversion of
3-phosphoglycerate and 2-phosphoglycerate in the glycolytic pathway.
Two isoenzymes of phosphoglycerate mutase, brain (PGAM1) and mus-
cle (PGAM2), are known to exist in humans, encoded by separate genes
located to 7p13p12 and 10q25.3, respectively [110].Deciency of
the skeletal muscle isoenzyme is an autosomal recessive condition
characterized by elevated plasma level of creatine kinase, intolerance
to exercise and recurrent episodes of myoglobinuria after exercise.
Forearm ischemic exercise causes abnormally low venous lactate re-
sponses. Glycogen content in muscle biopsy is normal or slightly in-
creased [111].
5.3. Aldolase A deciency (GSD XII)
Aldolase A catalyzes the interconversion of fructose 1,6-bisphosphate
into glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate and dihydroxyacetone phosphate in
the glycolytic pathway. This enzyme is encoded by the ALDOA gene locat-
ed on chromosome 16p11.2. In 1996, one patient with intolerance to ex-
ercise due to congenital deciency of aldolase A was reported. In this
patient, PAS staining of muscle tissue was negative and electron micros-
copy failed to reveal glycogen accumulation [112].Red cell aldolase
deciency has been associated with increased hepatic glycogen and he-
reditary hemolytic anemia [113]. Congenital deciency of aldolase A
has been termed GSD type XII [114].
5.3.1. β-Enolase (enolase-3) deciency (GSD XIII)
Enolase catalyzes the interconversion of 2-phosphoglycerate to 2-
phosphoenolpyruvate in the glycolytic pathway. There are three
isoenzymes of enolase, namely α,β,andγ, encoded by different
genes. The human β-enolase gene (ENO3) is expressed in skeletal mus-
cle and maps to chromosome 17p13.2. α-Enolase is ubiquitously
expressed while γ-enolase is neuron-specic[115]. Congenital decien-
cy of enolase-3 (β-enolase) has been reported in three patients and this
disorder has been named GSD type XIII. Patients affected with congen-
ital deciency of β-enolase suffer from adult-onset intolerance to exer-
cise and recurrent episodes of rhabdomyolysis and myogloburinuria
induced byexercise. In one patient, ultrastructural analysis of muscle bi-
opsy reveals scattered accumulation of glycogen while muscle biopsy
5.4. Lactate dehydrogenase deciency
Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) catalyzes the nal reaction of the
glycolytic pathway, the reversible conversion between pyruvate and
L-lactate. The two subunits A and B that compose the tetrameric LDH
molecule are encoded by separate genes, LDHA, located on 11p15.4
and LDHB, sited on 12p12.2p12.1. Inherited deciency of the LDH A
subunit (LDH A deciency) is an autosomal recessive disease clinically
characterized by exercise intolerance with recurrent rhabdomyolysis
after strenuous exercise [117]. Both LDH A deciency and Fanconi Bickel
disease have been named GSD type XI.
6. Glycogen metabolism in liver and skeletal muscle of
healthy humans
Glycogen is predominantly stored in liver and skeletal muscle. It has
been identied in other human tissues such as brain, heart, kidney, ad-
ipose tissue, and erythrocytes, but its function in these tissues is mostly
unknown.Glycogen depots in liver and skeletal muscle accomplish par-
tially different functions and are regulated in a different manner. Liver
glycogen predominantly supplies glucose to the blood stream during
fasting periods whereas glycogen stored in skeletal muscle provides
glucose to muscle bers during muscle contraction. Consequently,
liver glycogen content decreases during fasting and muscle glycogen
content diminishes after exercise in the working muscles. There is no
major decrease of muscle glycogen content during short periods of
fasting. These two main glycogen depots are physiologically related to
each other, as liver glycogen delivers glucose to the blood stream during
exercise and lactate produced in the muscle during muscle contraction
is converted to glucose in the liver contributing to hepatic glycogen
replenishment. During physical exercise, glucose uptake by the
contracting muscle increases despite low concentration of insulin.
6.1. Glycogen metabolism in the liver
Liver glycogen is predominantly restored during the postprandial
period in healthy humans. The source of glucose moieties that form
the glycogen particle in the liver is either the ingested food (directpath-
way of glycogen synthesis) or the gluconeogenesis route (indirect path-
way), that produces glucose 6-phosphate from precursors such as
lactate and alanine [118]. Among patients with congenital glucokinase
deciency, the indirect pathway becomes more important than the di-
rect pathway to synthesize glycogen after food ingestion, as phosphor-
ylation of glucose to glucose 6-phosphate in the liver is impaired
hindering the utilization of food-derived glucose [15]. The role of
other monosaccharides such as fructose and galactose as sources of he-
patic glycogen in humans is unclear. Dietary galactose has been estimat-
ed to contribute approximately 19% to liver glycogen synthesis in
healthy individuals [119]. Galactose or fructose supplementation has
been reported to be more effective than glucose in restoring liver glyco-
gen after exercise in trained subjects [120].
96 M.M. Adeva-Andany et al. / BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100
6.2. Glycogen metabolism in the skeletal muscle
6.2.1. Exercise diminishes glycogen concentration in contracting skeletal
Glucose released from glycogen is a major energy source for
contracting muscles and high-intensity physical exercise depletes gly-
cogen stores in the active skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle biopsies
obtained from healthy volunteers reveal that glycogen content is mark-
edly reduced following cycling exercise in the working muscles while
the glycogen level of the inactive muscles remains unchanged [121,
122]. The endurance capacity of skeletal muscle to exercise is associated
with muscle glycogen content and fatigue develops when glycogen
storage is exhausted in the active muscles [121]. The administration of
fructose to spare muscle glycogen has been reported both similar to glu-
cose or placebo [123] and better than glucose or placebo [124]. Elevated
concentration of free fatty acids in plasma contributes to spare skeletal
muscle glycogen during exercise [125].
6.2.2. Exercise promotes glycogen storage in the previously active skeletal
Prior exercise enhances the capacity of skeletal muscle to store gly-
cogen expanding the glycogen reserve in active muscles. Skeletal mus-
cle biopsy samples from healthy volunteers demonstrate that, in the
previously exercised muscles, the glycogen content during recovery in-
creases rapidly reaching overtime a greater level compared to the pre-
exercise level [121,122]. In addition, training reduces muscle glycogen
utilization during exercise in healthy subjects, enhancing the capacity
of skeletal muscle to metabolize fat [125]. Consequently, muscle glyco-
gen content is higher in endurance trained subjects compared to un-
trained subjects [126].
The increase of glycogen synthesis in response to previous exercise
requiresintact glycogenolysis. In patients with McArdle's disease, glyco-
genolysis is decient in skeletal muscle due to congenital deciency of
glycogen phosphorylase. These patients show low basal levels of glyco-
gen synthase activity and reduced activation of glycogen synthase fol-
lowing exercise compared to controls [39].
In addition to exercise, muscle glycogen content by itself inuences
glycogen synthesis in healthy humans. A high glycogen concentration
inhibits the synthesis of glycogen in skeletal muscle [68].
The effectiveness of fructose, galactose, and amino acids to improve
glycogen restoration has been investigated in a number of studies. The
rate of glycogen synthesis in exercised muscles during the recovery pe-
riod has been reported higher during glucose administration compared
with fructose feeding. The addition of fructose to glucose does not im-
prove the restoration capacity of glucose alone [127]. The co-ingestion
of amino acids and carbohydrate does not increase the rate of glycogen
synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise compared with the same
amount of carbohydrate in healthy subjects [128]. In trained subjects,
the addition of amino acids to galactose supplementation does not im-
prove muscle glycogen restoration during the recovery period [129].
6.2.3. Dietary modications alone do not alter signicantly glycogen stor-
age capacity in resting muscles
In periods of muscle resting, neither fasting nor food ingestion large-
ly change glycogen stores in skeletal muscle. The muscle glycogen con-
tent increases slightly by acute intake of large amount of carbohydrates.
After an oral glucose tolerance test, approximately 15% of the ingested
glucose is stored as muscle glycogen in healthy subjects. Prolonged in-
take of high amount of carbohydrates does not increase glycogen con-
tent in skeletal muscle in untrained subjects [129]. Glycogen level in
inactive muscles is unmodied by high carbohydrate delivery [121,
122]. Skeletal muscle biopsies from healthy subjects show that glycogen
concentration increases slightly in the inactive muscle whereas previ-
ously working muscles augment markedly their glycogen content
after exercise when carbohydrate-rich food is ingested [121]. The glyco-
gen concentration in skeletal muscle is not signicantly altered in the
unexercised muscle following either low-carbohydrate or high-
carbohydrate diet [122]. Glycogen synthesis in cultured human skeletal
muscle cells increases when leucine is added to insulin, as compared
with insulin alone [131]. Elevated plasma concentration of free fatty
acids does not change muscle glycogen content in healthy individuals,
either basally or during hyperinsulinemia [132]. An increase in the L-
carnitine content of skeletal muscle may contribute to augment muscle
glycogen content in healthy subjects [133].
6.2.4. Role of exercise in glycogen storage diseases
Exercise intolerance with cramps and episodes of rhabdomyolysis
and myoglobinuria usually occur in GSDs that affect skeletal muscle, in-
cluding deciency of phosphoglucomutase-1, glycogenin-1, muscle gly-
cogen synthase, muscle glycogen phosphorylase, muscle phosphorylase
kinase, glycogen debranching enzyme, lysosomal acid α-glucosidase,
muscle phosphofructokinase, phosphoglycerate mutase, aldolase A,
enolase-3, and LDH A. A regular exercise training program may improve
muscular performance in patients diagnosed with these diseases by en-
hancing the ability of muscle to oxidize fatty acids and by reducing the
increased dependence on glycogen associated with prolonged muscle
rest. Light intensity physical activity has improved exercise capacity in
patients with McArdle disease (myophosphorylase deciency) and
Pompe disease (lysosomal acid α-glucosidase). The effect of regular ex-
ercise on muscle performance is not well known in other glycogenoses
[134]. Concluding remarks. Glycogen metabolism is important to many
physiological events in the human body. The synthesis of glycogen al-
lows the storage of glucose to be used as fuel during periods of fasting
or muscle contraction via glycogen breakdown. Both the assembly and
degradation of glycogen are complex processes that require the coordi-
nated action of a number of enzymes. Congenital deciency of these en-
zymes typically results in fasting hypoglycemia, exercise intolerance or
both. In addition to liver and skeletal muscle involvement, GSDs may
display a broad clinical phenotype suggesting that glycogen depots in
the humanbody may have other functions besides therelease of glucose
to be oxidized.
Some abnormalities of glycogen metabolism have a substantial im-
pact on the nervous system. Congenital deciency of glycogen
branching enzyme (adult polyglucosan body disease) has devastating
neurological effects, including cognitive impairment, neurogenic blad-
der, spastic paraplegia, and axonal neuropathy. Laforin and malin are
proteins of elusive function in humans, whose inuenceon glycogen as-
sembly is underlined by Lafora disease, characterized by progressive
myoclonus epilepsy and cytoplasmic accumulation of polyglucosan in
several tissues, including liver, skeletal muscle, heart, skin, kidney, and
brain (neurons).
Altered glycogen metabolism may produce kidney dysfunction. Mu-
tations in glucose 6-phosphatase gene result in proximal tubular dys-
function and kidney failure. Mutations in the glucose transporter
GLUT2 also induce a proximal tubular nephropathy. Congenital de-
ciency of glycogen branching enzyme (GSD type IV) may rarely cause
proteinuria, stroke-like episodes and hypohydrosissuggesting a diagno-
sis of Fabry's disease.
Glycogen is a vital molecule for healthy cardiac function. Hypertro-
phic or dilated cardiomyopathy and conduction system abnormalities
are present in most GSDs. Mutations in the PRKAG2 gene that encodes
the γ-2 regulatory subunit of 5'AMP-activated protein kinase cause fa-
milial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and conduction system abnormal-
ities in the heart with accumulation of amylopectin-like material in the
Glycogen metabolism is impaired in patients with maturity onset di-
abetes of the young due to inactivating mutations in the glucokinase
gene, underlining the role of glucose phosphorylation in the pathogen-
esis of diabetes mellitus. Hepatic replenishment of glycogenafter a meal
is impaired in glucokinase-decient patients.
97M.M. Adeva-Andany et al. / BBA Clinical 5 (2016) 85100
Similarly, patients with congenital deciency of hepatic glycogen
synthase are unable to store glycogen in the liver after meals, showing
postprandial hyperglycemia, glucosuria, and hyperlactatemia. The scar-
city of hepatic glycogen results in fasting intolerance with ketotic
Glycogen metabolism is linked to fatty acid metabolism. Congenital
deciency of glycogen debranching enzyme may clinically mimic fatty
acid oxidation disorders with increased plasma concentration of
medium-chain fatty acids, predominantly C8 and C10.
Lack of glycogen depot in liver, heart, and skeletal muscle has been
reported in a case of carnitine acyl-carnitine translocase, the enzyme
that transports acyl-carnitine esters across the inner mitochondrial
membrane in exchange for free L-carnitine, underlining the relationship
between glycogen metabolism and fatty acid metabolism.
In the skeletal muscle of healthy subjects a signicant correlation has
been found between L-carnitine concentration and glycogen content in
skeletal muscle tissue biopsy samples. The increase in L-carnitine con-
tributes to raise glycogen content in skeletal muscle of healthy
A model of the glycogen molecule has been developed that may con-
tribute to understand the pathophysiology of GSDs. The crystal struc-
ture of some human enzymes involved in glycogen metabolism has
been disclosed.
The relationship between glycogen metabolism and glycosylation
processes is beginning to be outlined. Congenital deciency of
phosphoglucomutase-1 has been associated with a congenital disorder
of glycosylation clinically characterized by fasting hypoglycemia, myop-
athy, dilated cardiomyopathy, and cardiac arrest, but the mechanism
underlying defective glycosylation due to phosphoglucomutase-1 de-
ciency remains undened.
Phosphoglucomutase-3 action is required for glycosylation of pro-
teins and lipids. Congenital deciency of phosphoglucomutase-3 is as-
sociated with a congenital disorder of glycosylation characterized by
widespread clinical manifestations, including atopy with increased
serum IgE levels, immune deciency with recurrent bacterial and viral
infections, autoimmunity, and motor and neurocognitive impairment.
Mutations in the glucose 6-phosphate translocase gene impairs the
transport of glucose 6-phosphate into the lumen of theendoplasmic re-
ticulum to be dephosphorylated. Free glucose fails to be released from
the liver during periods of fasting and glycogen is accumulated in
some tissues including liver, kidney, and intestine. Some patients devel-
op immune dysfunction owing to a marked defect in glycosylation pro-
cesses in the neutrophils.
Therapy of GSDs is limited at present. Enzyme replacement
therapy is available for lysosomal α-glucosidase deciency but its
efcacy is not universal. Gene therapy may be useful in the future.
Nonviral gene vectors are being developed. The development of
induced pluripotent stem cells from patients with GSD Ib may con-
tribute to advances in the therapy of this disease. The design
of therapeutic strategies for these diseases depends on the under-
standing of the structure of the genes, their transcriptional and epige-
netic regulation, and the mechanisms of action and control of the
enzymes involved in glycogen metabolism. In this review, we have
tried to emphasized aspects of glycogen metabolism with translational
Transparency document
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found in the online version.
We are grateful to Ms. Gema Souto for her help during the writing of
this manuscript.
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... Glucose metabolism: Glucose is a 6-carbon sugar found in different foods both in simple (mono-and di-saccharides, such as fructose and lactose, respectively) and complex (e.g., starch) forms, and used as principal source of energy by our organism, reason why glucose transporters are present on surface membranes of all our cells [66]. Those transporters, classified in Sodium Glucose Transporters (SGLTs) and facilitated diffusion Glucose Transporters (GLUTs), are differently distributed among different cell types [67] and allow glucose uptake from blood circulation to (i) produce energy (ATP) via a series of biochemical reactions (glycolysis) or, in case of excess glucose, to (ii) store it under the form of glycogen (glycogen synthesis) in liver and skeletal muscles [68][69][70]. The balance between blood glucose, glucose absorption and glycogen deposition is finely regulated by the two peptide hormones insulin and glucagon, produced in Langerhans pancreatic islets, by ß-and α-cells respectively [71]. ...
... GYG1P3 is a pseudogene of Glycogenin 1 (GYG1), which is expressed across the skeletal muscle, pancreas and brain, involved in glycogen storage in muscle and glycogen synthesis in muscle and heart [58]. Chronic hyperglycaemia in a mouse model of human neonatal diabetes [59] results in marked glycogen accumulation in islets, and increased apoptosis in β-cells. ...
Human islets are widely used in research for understanding pathophysiological mechanisms leading to diabetes. Sex, age, and body mass index (BMI) are key donor traits influencing insulin secretion. Islet function is also regulated by an intricate network of microRNAs. Here, we profiled 754 microRNAs and 58,190 transcripts in up to 131 different human islet donor preparations (without diabetes) and assessed their association with donor traits. MicroRNA analyses identified miR-199a-5p and miR-214-3p associated with sex, age and BMI; miR-147b with sex and age; miR-378a-5p with sex and BMI; miR-542-3p, miR-34a-3p, miR-34a-5p, miR-497-5p and miR-99a-5p with age and BMI. There were 959 mRNA transcripts associated with sex (excluding those from sex-chromosomes), 940 with age and 418 with BMI. MicroRNA-199a-5p and miR-214-3p levels inversely associate with transcripts critical in islet function, metabolic regulation, and senescence. Our analyses identify human islet cell microRNAs influenced by donor traits. Graphical abstract