Glycogen Storage Disease

Glycogen Storage Disease

Grace E. Kim, MD

The mosaic pattern results from swollen hepatocytes compressing the sinusoids in this case of GSD Ia. The cell membranes are accentuated, and prominent glycogenated nuclei image are seen.

Reticulin stain highlights the abnormal architecture, loss of reticulin fibers image, and pseudorosette formation image in this hepatocellular carcinoma arising in a patient with GSD Ia.



  • Glycogen storage disease (GSD)


  • Glycogenoses


Inborn Error of Carbohydrate Metabolism

  • Gene mutation in proteins involved in glycogen synthesis, degradation, or regulation

    • Hepatic enzyme deficiency

      • GSD types 0, I, II, III, IV, VI, and IX

      • 80% of hepatic GSD is types I, III, and IX

    • Abnormal concentration or structure of glycogen

      • GSD 0 results in decreased hepatic glycogen

      • Remaining types of GSD display increased hepatic glycogen

  • Inherited as autosomal recessive trait

    • Exception is GSD IX (X-linked disorder)



  • Hepatomegaly

    • Occurs in GSD I, III, IV, VI, and IX

    • Rarely in GSD II

    • Not in GSD 0

  • Hypoglycemia

    • Occurs in GSD 0, I, and III

    • Mild in VI and IX

    • Rarely in GSD IV

    • Not in GSD II

Laboratory Tests

  • Confirmation of diagnosis

    • Enzymatic assay on liver

      • GSD 0, I, II, III, VI, and IX

    • DNA mutation analysis


  • Options, risks, complications

    • Increased incidence of hepatocellular neoplasia

      • Hepatic adenoma is frequent in GSD I and can occur in GSD III

      • Hepatocellular carcinoma occurs in GSD I and is reported in GSD III

    • GSD Ib has been associated with Crohn-like disease

      • Granulomatous colitis

      • Responds to inflammatory bowel disease treatment regimen

    • Dietary intervention

      • Prevent hypoglycemia, particularly for GSD 0 and I, less stringent in GSD III

  • Surgical approaches

    • Liver transplantation corrects primary hepatic enzyme defect

      • Has been performed for GSD I, III, and IV

      • Best treatment option for GSD IV


  • Variable based on type of GSD

    • GSD II (infantile form) usually results in death in 1st year of life

    • GSD IV (classic hepatic form) has rapid disease progression with liver failure from 3-5 years of age


Histologic Features

  • Histologic features are not generally diagnostic of GSD

    • Exception is characteristic cytoplasmic inclusion in GSD IV

      • Weakly basophilic to colorless inclusion, retracts from surrounding cytoplasm

      • PAS positive and partially digested on PAS-D

  • Mosaic architecture

    • In GSD I, III, VI, and IX

    • Attributed to enlarged, pale-staining, swollen hepatocytes

    • Compression of sinusoid by expanded hepatocytes

    • Excess glycogen is PAS positive, PAS-D negative

      • Glycogen may wash out with formalin processing

      • Glycogen can be retained with alcohol fixation

  • Fibrosis

    • Initially in periportal region

    • GSD III, IV, VI, IX; may occur in GSD I

      • Frequently progresses to cirrhosis in GSD IV

      • Cirrhosis can occur in III and IX

  • Features of hepatocytes

    • Glycogenated nuclei

      • In GSD I (prominent) and III (less)

    • Thickened cytoplasmic membrane

      • Resulting from organelles at periphery of cytoplasm

  • Cytoplasmic lipid in all GSD

    • More pronounced in GSD I

Jul 7, 2016 | Posted by in PATHOLOGY & LABORATORY MEDICINE | Comments Off on Glycogen Storage Disease
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