Investigation and management of the hepatic glycogen storage diseases
The glycogen storage diseases (GSD) comprise a group of disorders that involve the disruption of metabolism of glycogen. Glycogen is stored in various organs including skeletal muscle, the kidneys and liver. The liver stores glycogen to supply the rest of the body with glucose when required. Therefore, disruption of this process can lead to hypoglycaemia. If glycogen is not broken down effectively, this can lead to hepatomegaly. Glycogen synthase deficiency leads to impaired glycogen synthesis and consequently the liver is small. Glycogen brancher deficiency can lead to abnormal glycogen being stored in the liver leading to a quite different disorder of progressive liver dysfunction. Understanding the physiology of GSD I, III, VI and IX guides dietary treatments and the provision of appropriate amounts and types of carbohydrates. There has been recent re-emergence in the literature of the use of ketones in therapy, either in the form of the salt D,L-3-hydroxybutyrate or medium chain triglyceride (MCT). High protein diets have also been advocated. Alternative waxy maize based starches seem to show promising early data of efficacy. There are many complications of each of these disorders and they need to be prospectively surveyed and managed. Liver and kidney transplantation is still indicated in severe refractory disease.