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Research Article

McArdle's disease heterozygotes. Metabolic adaptation assessed using 31P-nuclear magnetic resonance.

R T Bogusky, R G Taylor, L J Anderson, K L Angelos, J S Lieberman and D A Walsh

Published June 1986

Two daughters of a propositus with documented McArdle's disease were shown by enzyme assay, gel electrophoresis, and immunoblotting to be partially deficient in skeletal muscle phosphorylase and, presumably, heterozygous for the trait. Both exhibited only the adult form of the skeletal muscle isozyme. By 31P-nuclear magnetic resonance, both heterozygotes showed a greater production of acid during fully aerobic exercise than when blood flow was occluded in ischemic exercise. This pattern is in contrast to that of control subjects, where there is significantly greater acid production in ischemic versus aerobic exercise, and distinct from that of phosphorylase-negative patients in which no acid is produced in either circumstance. We suggest that these heterozygotes may have adapted to their diminished phosphorylase by enhancing utilization of plasma glucose. If so, this mechanism could account for the observation that most of the symptoms of McArdle's disease are often manifest only in adulthood. These studies also show that although there are very high concentrations of phosphorylase in skeletal muscle (approximately 2% of the soluble protein), such a high level is essential for normal muscle glycogenolysis.

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