The Phenotypic and Genetic Spectrum of Glycogen Storage Disease Type VI

Genes (Basel). 2021 Aug 3;12(8):1205. doi: 10.3390/genes12081205.


Glycogen storage disease type VI (GSD VI) is an autosomal recessive disorder of glycogen metabolism due to mutations in the glycogen phosphorylase gene (PYGL), resulting in a deficiency of hepatic glycogen phosphorylase. We performed a systematic literature review in order to collect information on the clinical phenotypes and genotypes of all published GSD VI patients and to compare the data to those for GSD IX, a biochemically and clinically very similar disorder caused by a deficiency of phosphorylase kinase. A total of 63 genetically confirmed cases of GSD VI with clinical information were identified (median age: 5.3 years). The age at presentation ranged from 5 weeks to 38 years, with a median of 1.8 years. The main presenting symptoms were hepatomegaly and poor growth, while the most common laboratory findings at initial presentation comprised elevated activity of liver transaminases, hypertriglyceridemia, fasting hypoglycemia and postprandial hyperlactatemia. Liver biopsies (n = 37) showed an increased glycogen content in 89.2%, liver fibrosis in 32.4% and early liver cirrhosis in 10.8% of cases, respectively. No patient received a liver transplant, and one successful pregnancy was reported. Our review demonstrates that GSD VI is a disorder with broad clinical heterogeneity and a small number of patients with a severe phenotype and liver cirrhosis. Neither clinical nor laboratory findings allow for a differentiation between GSD VI and GSD IX. Early biochemical markers of disease severity or clear genotype phenotype correlations are missing. Given the overall benign and unspecific phenotype and the need for enzymatic or genetic analyses for confirmation of the diagnosis, GSD VI is likely underdiagnosed. With new treatment approaches in sight, early, pre-symptomatic diagnosis, especially with respect to hepatic cirrhosis, will become even more important.

Keywords: GSD; PYGL; carbohydrate metabolism; glycogen storage disease; hepatic cirrhosis; hepatic fibrosis; ketotic GSD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Genotype*
  • Glycogen Storage Disease Type VI / genetics*
  • Glycogen Storage Disease Type VI / pathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Phenotype*
  • Young Adult