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by Marius Blanc


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Metabolic disorders:
Origins, symptoms and treatments



Metabolic disorders are a group of diseases that affect the process by which our body converts food into energy. These malfunctions can have serious consequences for health. This article explores the origins, symptoms and treatment of metabolic disorders.

1. Origins of metabolic


a. Genetic causes

Metabolic disorders of genetic origin are often linked to mutations in the genes responsible for the production of enzymes essential to metabolism.

  • Hereditary diseases: Some metabolic diseases, such as phenylketonuria (PKU), are passed down from generation to generation. PKU, for example, is caused by a mutation in the PAH gene that leads to an accumulation of phenylalanine, a substance that is toxic to the brain.

  • Genetic mutations: Mutations in genes can disrupt the production of enzymes needed for metabolism. For example, Gaucher disease is due to a mutation in the GBA gene, which affects the breakdown of lipids in cells.

b. Environmental factors

Environmental factors also play a crucial role in the development of metabolic disorders.

  • Diet: A diet high in sugars and saturated fats can contribute to the development of metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. A poor diet unbalanced in essential nutrients can also disrupt the metabolism.

  • Exposure to toxins: Environmental toxins, such as pesticides and industrial pollutants, can affect metabolic function. For example, some studies suggest that exposure to phthalates can disrupt hormonal and metabolic functions.

2. Main types of metabolic


a. Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the most common metabolic disorders, characterised by high blood sugar levels.

  • Type 1: An autoimmune disease in which the body does not produce insulin. The beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed by the immune system, requiring insulin injections to regulate blood sugar levels.

  • Type 2: Insulin resistance often associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. The body produces insulin, but the cells do not respond properly, leading to a build-up of glucose in the blood.

b. Dyslipidemias

Dyslipidaemias are disorders characterised by abnormal levels of lipids in the blood.

  • Hypercholesterolaemia: High levels of cholesterol in the blood, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Hypercholesterolaemia can be hereditary or caused by a diet rich in saturated fats.

c. Glycogen storage diseases

These diseases are characterised by an abnormal accumulation of glycogen in the organs.

  • Glycogenosis: Glycogenoses are a group of hereditary disorders in which excess glycogen accumulates in cells, leading to symptoms such as muscle weakness, hypoglycaemia and liver problems. Pompe's disease and Von Gierke's disease are examples of glycogenoses.

3. Common symptoms of

    metabolic disorders

Symptoms of metabolic disorders can vary depending on the type of disorder, but some common signs include:

  • Fatigue: A feeling of chronic fatigue, even after a full night's sleep, may indicate a metabolic disorder.

  • Unexplained weight loss or gain: Weight fluctuations for no apparent reason may be a sign of diabetes or a thyroid disorder.

  • Skin problems: Skin rashes, jaundice or darkened skin may be symptoms of metabolic disorders such as haemochromatosis.

  • Neurological problems: Memory problems, confusion or convulsions may be associated with metabolic disorders affecting the brain.

4. Diagnostic

Diagnosing metabolic disorders requires a multidisciplinary approach.

  • Blood tests: Measure levels of glucose, cholesterol and specific enzymes. For example, high blood glucose levels may indicate diabetes.

  • Genetic tests: Identify specific genetic mutations responsible for inherited metabolic disorders. Genetic tests can confirm diseases such as PKU or Gaucher disease.

  • Biopsy: Removal of tissue for microscopic examination, particularly useful in the diagnosis of glycogen storage diseases.

5. Processing and                          management resources

a. Changes in Lifestyle

Lifestyle changes are essential for managing metabolic disorders.

  • Balanced diet: Eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains can help control blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

  • Physical exercise: Regular physical activity helps to maintain a healthy weight, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce cholesterol levels.

b. Medicaments

Medication is often necessary to manage metabolic disorders.

  • Insulin: Used by type 1 diabetics to regulate blood sugar levels.

  • Lipid-lowering drugs: Drugs such as statins to reduce cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular disease.

c. Advanced therapies

Advanced therapies offer new prospects for the treatment of metabolic disorders.

  • Gene therapy: Experimental approach aimed at correcting the genetic mutations that cause metabolic disorders. For example, gene therapy is currently being studied as a treatment for Gaucher disease.

  • Organ transplantation: In severe cases of glycogen storage disorders, transplantation of organs such as the liver may be necessary.


Metabolic disorders represent a significant medical challenge, but thanks to scientific advances it is possible to manage these conditions effectively. A thorough understanding of their origins, symptoms and treatments means that these diseases can be better prevented and treated. With appropriate management, people with metabolic disorders can lead healthy, active lives.

Lagap SA offers a complete range of treatments for diabetes, as well as other drugs associated with dyslipidemia and electrolyte and trace element deficiencies.

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