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Genes and exercise intolerance: insights from McArdle disease.

Physiological Genomics 2016 Februrary
McArdle disease (glycogen storage disease type V) is caused by inherited deficiency of a key enzyme in muscle metabolism, the skeletal muscle-specific isoform of glycogen phosphorylase, "myophosphorylase," which is encoded by the PYGM gene. Here we review the main pathophysiological, genotypic, and phenotypic features of McArdle disease and their interactions. To date, moderate-intensity exercise (together with pre-exercise carbohydrate ingestion) is the only treatment option that has proven useful for these patients. Furthermore, regular physical activity attenuates the clinical severity of McArdle disease. This is quite remarkable for a monogenic disorder that consistently leads to the same metabolic defect at the muscle tissue level, that is, complete inability to use muscle glycogen stores. Further knowledge of this disorder would help patients and enhance understanding of exercise metabolism as well as exercise genomics. Indeed, McArdle disease is a paradigm of human exercise intolerance and PYGM genotyping should be included in the genetic analyses that might be applied in the coming personalized exercise medicine as well as in future research on genetics and exercise-related phenotypes.

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