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Glycogen storage disease due to muscle glycogen phosphorylase deficiency

Synonym(s) GSD due to muscle glycogen phosphorylase deficiency
GSD type 5
GSD type V
Glycogen storage disease type 5
Glycogen storage disease type V
Glycogenosis due to muscle glycogen phosphorylase deficiency
Glycogenosis type 5
Glycogenosis type V
McArdle disease
Myophosphorylase deficiency
Prevalence Unknown
Inheritance Autosomal recessive
Age of onset Infancy
  • E74.0
  • C0017924
  • C2936916
  • C537276
  • D006012
  • 10018462


Disease definition

Myophosphorylase deficiency (McArdle's disease), or glycogen storage disease type 5 (GSD5) , is a severe form of glycogen storage disease characterized by exercise intolerance.


Prevalence is unknown.

Clinical description

Onset occurs in childhood. Patients present with a syndrome of muscular exercise intolerance with myalgia, cramps, fatigue, and muscle weakness. Massive elevation of creatine-kinase and rhabdomyolysis with myoglobinuria (dark urine) after exercise is noted in around 50% of patients, potentially leading to acute kidney failure. A 'second wind' phenomenon with relief of myalgia and fatigue after a few minutes of rest is observed in many patients. The clinical presentation is usually very classical, but some patients may have very moderate forms. In a few cases, onset very early in life with hypotonia, generalized muscle weakness and progressive respiratory failure has been described.


The condition is caused by mutations in the PYGM gene (11q13), leading to muscle phosphorylase deficiency. Mutation p.R50X may account for 40% to 50% of the alleles in Caucasian populations.

Diagnostic methods

The diagnosis is based on biological findings revealing a lack of lactate elevation in blood during ischemic forearm test, excess glycogen, and deficient phosphorylase activity in the muscle biopsy.

Differential diagnosis

The differential diagnosis should include GSD type 7 (see this term).

Genetic counseling

The condition is autosomal recessive.

Management and treatment

Treatment is based on controlled physical training in order to develop mitochondrial oxidation capacities in muscles, and programmed glucose intake according to exercising periods. Diets with high protein intake have yielded variable results.


Prognosis is favorable when severe rhabdomyolysis is avoided. However, myoglobinuria may lead to potentially life-threatening renal failure.

Expert reviewer(s)

  • Dr Roseline FROISSART

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Article for general public
Clinical genetics review
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