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New Fatal Genetic Heart Disease Discovered

Date:
October 23, 2007
Source:
Göteborg University
Summary:
Researchers have discovered a previously unknown congenital disease that is caused by a genetic defect resulting in muscle cells not being able to store energy from sugar. In the worst case, the disease can lead to the heart stopping. Researchers also determined that people can live without glycogen. This finding may be of great significance for research regarding type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy have discovered a previously unknown congenital disease that is caused by a genetic defect resulting in muscle cells not being able to store energy from sugar. In the worst case, the disease can lead to the heart stopping.

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The researchers have identified three sisters who have a previously unknown disease that affects the heart and muscles. The oldest child, who was being treated for epilepsy, did not have the energy to play as much as her friends, but in general was considered to be a normal child. At the age of 10 the child died suddenly while playing in the school playground. The post-mortem examination noted that the cardiac muscle was enlarged - a condition that can result in impaired circulation and lead to heart failure.

When one of the younger siblings displayed similar symptoms a specimen of the child’s muscle tissue was taken. It revealed that the muscle lacked glycogen, one of the major sources of fast energy for muscles.

Glycogen consists of long sugar chains that are manufactured and stored in the cells. When the cell requires additional energy the sugar chains are cut into pieces and form glucose. As the heart is a muscle that never rests, it is in constant need of energy. When it is under strain it has to derive additional energy from glycogen.

The disease is rare. A genetic analysis of 100 people in the population group revealed that one was a carrier. Two carriers are required for the disease to develop.

The discovery that people can live without glycogen can also be of great significance for research into other conditions, among others diabetes type 2, where one theory is that reduced formation of glycogen in the muscles is the cause of reduced insulin sensitivity and increased blood sugar.

The study is presented in the medical journal, New England Journal of Medicine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Göteborg University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Göteborg University. "New Fatal Genetic Heart Disease Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071020105657.htm>.
Göteborg University. (2007, October 23). New Fatal Genetic Heart Disease Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071020105657.htm
Göteborg University. "New Fatal Genetic Heart Disease Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071020105657.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

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