Infantile Pompe's disease, lipid storage, and partial carnitine deficiency


  • MD M. Anthony Verity

    Corresponding author
    1. The Department of Pathology (Neuropathology) and Mental Retardation Research Center, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California
    • Department of Pathology (Neuropathology), UCLA School of Medicine, Room 18–170 CHS, Los Angeles, CA 90024–1732
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A diagnosis of infantile Pompe's disease (glycogenosis type II) was made by muscle biopsy on a 6-month-old infant boy seen with hypotonia, weakness, and developmental regression. Histochemistry and electron microscopy revealed a vacuolar myopathy with massive glycoge accumulation associated with increased neutral lipid as demonstrated on Oil Red O reactions. Pleomorphic, hypertrophic mitochondria with distortion of cristae and electron-dense deposits within the matrix were identified. Acid α−1,4-glucosidase activity was absent but associated with increased neutral maltase activity and a variable compensatory rise in activity of other lysosomal enzymes. Biochemical studies demonstrated low free carnitine, normal acylcarnitine, increased activity of carnitine palmityl and acyl transferases, and other enzymes of β-oxidation with the notable exception of low normal β-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity. The explanation for the lipid accumulation is uncertain but is likely related to the combination of low carnitine concentration in muscle, low β-hydroxyacyl CoA dehydrogenase, representing a rate limiting enzyme of β-oxidation, and nonspecific defective mitochondrial function.