Prospective exploratory muscle biopsy, imaging, and functional assessment in patients with late-onset Pompe disease treated with alglucosidase alfa: The EMBASSY Study

Ans van der Ploeg, Pierre G. Carlier, Robert Yves Carlier, John T. Kissel, Benedikt Schoser, Stephan Wenninger, Alan Pestronk, Richard J. Barohn, Mazen M. Dimachkie, Ozlem Goker-Alpan, Tahseen Mozaffar, Loren D.M. Pena, Zachary Simmons, Volker Straub, Michela Guglieri, Peter Young, Matthias Boentert, Pierre Yves Baudin, Stephan Wens, Raheel ShafiCarl Bjartmar, Beth L. Thurberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background Late-onset Pompe disease is characterized by progressive skeletal myopathy followed by respiratory muscle weakness, typically leading to loss of ambulation and respiratory failure. In this population, enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) with alglucosidase alfa has been shown to stabilize respiratory function and improve mobility and muscle strength. Muscle pathology and glycogen clearance from skeletal muscle in treatment-naïve adults after ERT have not been extensively examined. Methods This exploratory, open-label, multicenter study evaluated glycogen clearance in muscle tissue samples collected pre- and post- alglucosidase alfa treatment in treatment-naïve adults with late-onset Pompe disease. The primary endpoint was the quantitative reduction in percent tissue area occupied by glycogen in muscle biopsies from baseline to 6 months. Secondary endpoints included qualitative histologic assessment of tissue glycogen distribution, secondary pathology changes, assessment of magnetic resonance images (MRIs) for intact muscle and fatty replacement, and functional assessments. Results Sixteen patients completed the study. After 6 months of ERT, the percent tissue area occupied by glycogen in quadriceps and deltoid muscles decreased in 10 and 8 patients, respectively. No changes were detected on MRI from baseline to 6 months. A majority of patients showed improvements on functional assessments after 6 months of treatment. All treatment-related adverse events were mild or moderate. Conclusions This exploratory study provides novel insights into the histopathologic effects of ERT in late-onset Pompe disease patients. Ultrastructural examination of muscle biopsies demonstrated reduced lysosomal glycogen after ERT. Findings are consistent with stabilization of disease by ERT in treatment-naïve patients with late-onset Pompe disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology


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