Type 2 polysaccharide storage myopathy in Quarter Horses is a novel glycogen storage disease causing exertional rhabdomyolysis

Stephanie J. Valberg, Zoë J. Williams, Carrie J. Finno, Abigail Schultz, Deborah Velez-Irizarry, Marisa L. Henry, Keri Gardner, Jessica L. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Both type 1 (PSSM1) and type 2 polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM2) are characterised by aggregates of abnormal polysaccharide in skeletal muscle. Whereas the genetic basis for PSSM1 is known (R309H GYS1), the cause of PSSM2 in Quarter Horses (PSSM2-QH) is unknown and glycogen concentrations not defined. Objectives: To characterise the histopathological and biochemical features of PSSM2-QH and determine if an associated monogenic variant exists in genes known to cause glycogenosis. Study design: Retrospective case control. Methods: Sixty-four PSSM2-QH, 30 PSSM1-QH and 185 control-QH were identified from a biopsy repository and clinical data, histopathology scores (0–3), glycogen concentrations and selected glycolytic enzyme activities compared. Coding sequences of 12 genes associated with muscle glycogenoses were identified from whole genome sequences and compared between seven PSSM2-QH and five control-QH. Results: Exertional rhabdomyolysis in PSSM2-QH occurred predominantly in barrel racing and working cow/roping performance types and improved with regular exercise and a low starch/fat-supplemented diet. Histopathological scores, including the amount of amylase-resistant polysaccharide (PSSM2-QH 1.4 ± 0.6, PSSM1-QH 2.1 ± 0.3, control-QH 0 ± 0, p < 0.001), and glycogen concentrations (PSSM2-QH 129 ± 62, PSSM1-QH 175 ± 9, control-QH 80 ± 27 mmol/kg, p < 0.0001) were intermediate in PSSM2-QH with significant differences among groups. In PSSM2-QH, abnormal polysaccharide had a less filamentous ultrastructure than PSSM1-QH and phosphorylase and phosphofructokinase activities were normal. Seventeen of 30 PSSM2-QH with available pedigrees descended from one of three stallions within four generations. Of the 29 predicted high or moderate impact genetic variants identified in candidate genes, none were present in only PSSM2-QH and absent in control-QH. Main limitations: Analyses of PSSM2-QH and PSSM1-QH were performed on shipped samples, controls on frozen samples. Conclusions: PSSM2-QH is a novel glycogen storage disorder that is not the result of a mutation in genes currently known to cause muscle glycogenoses in other species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-631
Number of pages14
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • glycogen
  • glycogenolysis
  • glycolysis
  • horse
  • muscle disease
  • polyglucosan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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