Metabolic myopathies are disorders that affect skeletal muscle substrate oxidation. Although some drugs and hormones can affect metabolism in skeletal muscle, this review will focus on the genetic metabolic myopathies.
Impairments in glycogenolysis/glycolysis (glycogen storage disease), fatty acid transport/oxidation (fatty acid oxidation defects), and mitochondrial metabolism (mitochondrial myopathies) represent most metabolic myopathies; however, they often overlap clinically with structural genetic myopathies, referred to as pseudometabolic myopathies. Although metabolic myopathies can present in the neonatal period with hypotonia, hypoglycemia, and encephalopathy, most cases present clinically in children or young adults with exercise intolerance, rhabdomyolysis, and weakness. In general, the glycogen storage diseases manifest during brief bouts of high-intensity exercise; in contrast, fatty acid oxidation defects and mitochondrial myopathies usually manifest during longer-duration endurance-type activities, often with fasting or other metabolic stressors (eg, surgery, fever). The neurologic examination is often normal between events (except in the pseudometabolic myopathies) and evaluation requires one or more of the following tests: exercise stress testing, blood (eg, creatine kinase, acylcarnitine profile, lactate, amino acids), urine (eg, organic acids, myoglobin), muscle biopsy (eg, histology, ultrastructure, enzyme testing), and targeted (specific gene) or untargeted (myopathy panels) genetic tests.
Definitive identification of a specific metabolic myopathy often leads to specific interventions, including lifestyle, exercise, and nutritional modifications; cofactor treatments; accurate genetic counseling; avoidance of specific triggers; and rapid treatment of rhabdomyolysis.