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Glycogen storage disease type IIIa (GSDIIIa) is an inborn error of carbohydrate metabolism caused by a debranching enzyme deficiency. A subgroup of GSDIIIa patients develops severe myopathy. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether acute nutritional ketosis (ANK) in response to ketone-ester (KE) ingestion is effective to deliver oxidative substrate to exercising muscle in GSDIIIa patients. This was an investigator-initiated, researcher-blinded, randomized, crossover study in six adult GSDIIIa patients. Prior to exercise subjects ingested a carbohydrate drink (~66 g, CHO) or a ketone-ester (395 mg/kg, KE) + carbohydrate drink (30 g, KE + CHO). Subjects performed 15-minute cycling exercise on an upright ergometer followed by 10-minute supine cycling in a magnetic resonance (MR) scanner at two submaximal workloads (30% and 60% of individual maximum, respectively). Blood metabolites, indirect calorimetry data, and in vivo 31 P-MR spectra from quadriceps muscle were collected during exercise. KE + CHO induced ANK in all six subjects with median peak βHB concentration of 2.6 mmol/L (range: 1.6-3.1). Subjects remained normoglycemic in both study arms, but delta glucose concentration was 2-fold lower in the KE + CHO arm. The respiratory exchange ratio did not increase in the KE + CHO arm when workload was doubled in subjects with overt myopathy. In vivo 31 P MR spectra showed a favorable change in quadriceps energetic state during exercise in the KE + CHO arm compared to CHO in subjects with overt myopathy. Effects of ANK during exercise are phenotype-specific in adult GSDIIIa patients. ANK presents a promising therapy in GSDIIIa patients with a severe myopathic phenotype. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: identifier: NCT03011203.

Original publication




Journal article


J Inherit Metab Dis

Publication Date





226 - 239


31P-MRS, acute nutritional ketosis, exercise, glycogen storage disease, ketone-ester