Welcome to the Early Onset Pompe Disease Community
Pompe disease is a rare multisystem genetic disorder that is characterized by absence or deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme alpha-glucosidase (GAA). This enzyme is required to breakdown (metabolize) the complex carbohydrate glycogen and convert it into the simple sugar glucose. Glycogen is a thick, sticky substance and failure to properly break it down results in massive accumulation of lysosomal glycogen in cells, particularly in cardiac, smooth, and skeletal muscle cells. Pompe disease is a single disease continuum with variable rates of disease progression and different ages of onset.
The infantile form is characterized by severe muscle weakness and abnormally diminished muscle tone (hypotonia) without muscle wasting, and usually manifests within the first few months of life. Additional abnormalities may include enlargement of the heart (cardiomegaly), the liver (hepatomegaly), and/or the tongue (macroglossia). Without treatment, progressive cardiac failure usually causes life-threatening complications by the age of 12 to 18 months.
The extent of organ involvement may vary among affected individuals; however, skeletal muscle weakness is usually present with minimal cardiac involvement. Initial symptoms of late-onset Pompe disease may be subtle and may go unrecognized for years. Pompe disease is caused by mutations of the GAA gene and is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait.