A diagnostic algorithm for metabolic myopathies

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2010 Mar;10(2):118-26. doi: 10.1007/s11910-010-0096-4.


Metabolic myopathies comprise a clinically and etiologically diverse group of disorders caused by defects in cellular energy metabolism, including the breakdown of carbohydrates and fatty acids to generate adenosine triphosphate, predominantly through mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Accordingly, the three main categories of metabolic myopathies are glycogen storage diseases, fatty acid oxidation defects, and mitochondrial disorders due to respiratory chain impairment. The wide clinical spectrum of metabolic myopathies ranges from severe infantile-onset multisystemic diseases to adult-onset isolated myopathies with exertional cramps. Diagnosing these diverse disorders often is challenging because clinical features such as recurrent myoglobinuria and exercise intolerance are common to all three types of metabolic myopathy. Nevertheless, distinct clinical manifestations are important to recognize as they can guide diagnostic testing and lead to the correct diagnosis. This article briefly reviews general clinical aspects of metabolic myopathies and highlights approaches to diagnosing the relatively more frequent subtypes (Fig. 1). Fig. 1 Clinical algorithm for patients with exercise intolerance in whom a metabolic myopathy is suspected. CK-creatine kinase; COX-cytochrome c oxidase; CPT-carnitine palmitoyl transferase; cyt b-cytochrome b; mtDNA-mitochondrial DNA; nDNA-nuclear DNA; PFK-phosphofructokinase; PGAM-phosphoglycerate mutase; PGK-phosphoglycerate kinase; PPL-myophosphorylase; RRF-ragged red fibers; TFP-trifunctional protein deficiency; VLCAD-very long-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism Disorders / complications
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / complications
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / complications
  • Models, Biological*
  • Muscular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Muscular Diseases / etiology
  • Muscular Diseases / genetics
  • Muscular Diseases / metabolism*


  • Glycogen