Glycogenosis II (GSDII) is an autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorder resulting from acid alpha-glucosidase (GAA) deficiency, subsequent lysosomal accumulation of glycogen in muscles, impairment of autophagic processes and progressive cardiac, motor and respiratory failure. The infantile form usually appears in the first month of life, progresses rapidly and presents with severe cardiac involvement and complete deficiency of alpha-glucosidase activity (< 1% of normal controls). The late-onset form is characterized by great variability of the phenotypical spectrum. Main findings are muscle weakness and severe respiratory insufficiency while cardiac involvement may be completely absent. Residual GAA enzyme activity may correlate with severity of phenotype but many adult patients sharing the same mutations present with a wide variability in residual enzyme activity, age of onset and rate of disease progression, thus supporting a role for other factors, i.e., post-translational modifications and modifier genes, in modulating disease presentation.Enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) with alglucosidase alfa stabilizes the disease or improves muscle and/or respiratory function. However, efficacy of ERT may be influenced by several factors including age when ERT begins, extent of muscle damage, degree of defective autophagy, diversity in muscle fiber composition, difficulties in delivery of the therapeutic agent and antibody production. Further studies should be warranted to investigate factors determining the differences in clinical expression and therapeutic response in order to achieve better clinical and therapeutic management of these patients.
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