Reversal of glycogen storage disease type IIIa-related cardiomyopathy with modification of diet

J Inherit Metab Dis. 2009 Dec;32 Suppl 1(0 1):S103-6. doi: 10.1007/s10545-009-1088-x. Epub 2009 Mar 30.


Glycogen storage disease type III (GSD III) is caused by a deficiency in debranching enzyme, which leads to an accumulation of abnormal glycogen called limit dextrin in affected tissues. Muscle and liver involvement is present in GSD type IIIa, while the defect is limited to the liver only in GSD type IIIb. Besides skeletal muscle involvement, a cardiomyopathy resembling idiopathic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is seen. Management consists of maintaining normoglycaemia by supplementation with cornstarch therapy and/or protein. While studies are lacking regarding the best treatment for skeletal muscle disease, a high-protein diet was previously reported to be beneficial. No cases of improvement in cardiomyopathy have been reported. Our patient presented in infancy with hypoglycaemia and hepatomegaly. His prescribed management consisted of cornstarch supplementation and a high-protein diet providing 20% of his total energy needs. At 16 years of age, he developed a severe cardiomyopathy with a left ventricular mass index of 209 g/m(2). The cardiomyopathy remained stable on a protein intake of 20-25% of total energy. At age 22 years, the diet was changed to increase his protein intake to 30% of total energy and minimize his cornstarch therapy to only what was required to maintain normoglycaemia. Dramatic improvement in the cardiomyopathy occurred. Over one year, his left ventricular mass index decreased from 159.7 g/m(2) to 78 g/m(2) (normal 50-86 g/m(2)) and the creatine kinase levels decreased from 455 U/L to 282 U/L. Avoidance of overtreatment with carbohydrate and a high-protein diet can reverse and may prevent cardiomyopathy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathies / diet therapy*
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology*
  • Cardiomyopathies / physiopathology
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Glycogen Storage Disease Type III / complications*
  • Glycogen Storage Disease Type III / diet therapy*
  • Glycogen Storage Disease Type III / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / etiology
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / pathology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Starch / administration & dosage
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Starch

Supplementary concepts

  • Glycogen Storage Disease IIIA