Information for Patients
Carbohydrate Metabolism Disorders
Metabolism is the process your body uses to make energy from the food you eat. Food is made up of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Chemicals in your digestive system (enzymes) break the food parts down into sugars and acids, your body's fuel. Your body can use this fuel right away, or it can store the energy in your body tissues. If you have a metabolic disorder, something goes wrong with this process.
Carbohydrate metabolism disorders are a group of metabolic disorders. Normally your enzymes break carbohydrates down into glucose (a type of sugar). If you have one of these disorders, you may not have enough enzymes to break down the carbohydrates. Or the enzymes may not work properly. This causes a harmful amount of sugar to build up in your body. That can lead to health problems, some of which can be serious. Some of the disorders are fatal.
These disorders are inherited. Newborn babies get screened for many of them, using blood tests. If there is a family history of one of these disorders, parents can get genetic testing to see whether they carry the gene. Other genetic tests can tell whether the fetus has the disorder or carries the gene for the disorder.
Treatments may include special diets, supplements, and medicines. Some babies may also need additional treatments, if there are complications. For some disorders, there is no cure, but treatments may help with symptoms.
Mucopolysaccharidosis type II Mucopolysaccharidosis type II (MPS II), also known as Hunter syndrome, is a condition that affects many different parts of the body and occurs almost exclusively in males. It is a progressively debilitating disorder; however, the rate of progression varies among affected individuals.At birth, individuals with MPS II do not display any features of the condition. Between ages 2 and 4, they develop full lips, large rounded cheeks, a broad nose, and an enlarged tongue (macroglossia). The vocal cords also enlarge, which results in a deep, hoarse voice. Narrowing of the airway causes frequent upper respiratory infections and short pauses in breathing during sleep (sleep apnea). As the disorder progresses, individuals need medical assistance to keep their airway open.Many other organs and tissues are affected in MPS II. Individuals with this disorder often have a large head (macrocephaly), a buildup of fluid in the brain (hydrocephalus), an enlarged liver and spleen (hepatosplenomegaly), and a soft out-pouching around the belly-button (umbilical hernia) or lower abdomen (inguinal hernia). People with MPS II usually have thick skin that is not very stretchy. Some affected individuals also have distinctive white skin growths that look like pebbles. Most people with this disorder develop hearing loss and have recurrent ear infections. Some individuals with MPS II develop problems with the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye (retina) and have reduced vision. Carpal tunnel syndrome commonly occurs in children with this disorder and is characterized by numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and fingers. Narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis) in the neck can compress and damage the spinal cord. The heart is also significantly affected by MPS II, and many individuals develop heart valve problems. Heart valve abnormalities can cause the heart to become enlarged (ventricular hypertrophy) and can eventually lead to heart failure.Children with MPS II grow steadily until about age 5, and then their growth slows and they develop short stature. Individuals with this condition have joint deformities (contractures) that significantly affect mobility. Most people with MPS II also have dysostosis multiplex, which refers to multiple skeletal abnormalities seen on x-ray. Dysostosis multiplex includes a generalized thickening of most long bones, particularly the ribs.There are two types of MPS II, called the severe and mild types. While both types affect many different organs and tissues as described above, people with severe MPS II also experience a decline in intellectual function and a more rapid disease progression. Individuals with the severe form begin to lose basic functional skills (developmentally regress) between the ages of 6 and 8. The life expectancy of these individuals is 10 to 20 years. Individuals with mild MPS II also have a shortened lifespan, but they typically live into adulthood and their intelligence is not affected. Heart disease and airway obstruction are major causes of death in people with both types of MPS II.