Unfortunately for someone with a fatty acid oxidation disorder (FAOD), their disorder can often be accompanied by serious health problems that can even be life-threatening. One of the many possible ailments associated with fatty acid oxidation disorders is rhabdomyolysis.
What Is Rhabdomyolysis?
Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown and deterioration of skeletal muscle tissue that can result in intense muscle pains and muscle weakness. It also causes the release of myoglobin, a muscle fiber protein, into the body’s bloodstream that can lead to other serious complications like kidney failure. The rhabdomyolysis recovery process typically includes hospitalization and IVs to prevent further liver damage. If left untreated, it can be fatal. Rhabdomyolysis can occur for many reasons including serious injury, prolonged immobilization, drugs, severe burns, extreme physical activity, and conditions like fatty acid oxidation disorders.
Rhabdomyolysis and Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorders
Fatty acid oxidation disorders are disorders related to problems with the breakdown of fats in the body, and rhabdomyolysis from fatty acid oxidation disorders is a common side effect of these disorders. In fact, inborn errors of metabolism are one of the most common causes of rhabdomyolysis in children.1
Research on inborn errors of metabolism suggests that the reason rhabdomyolysis from fatty acid oxidation disorders is so common is because of how the resulting chemical makeup in the body can affect a person’s skeletal muscles. Fatty acid oxidation disorders often lead to elevated levels of acylcarnitines, an organic compound used in the oxidation of fatty acids, as well as fatty acid metabolites.2 Both of these substances can be toxic to skeletal muscles and lead to the onset of muscle problems like rhabdomyolysis.
These problems can range from mild muscle aches and pains to severe cases of rhabdomyolysis that can be fatal. In some cases like with MCKAT deficiency, this muscle breakdown can appear almost immediately with newborns showing signs of rhabdomyolysis from fatty acid oxidation disorders days after birth. Other people will experience episodes of rhabdomyolysis throughout their lives. For those with a mild MTP deficiency, they may only begin to experience symptoms like rhabdomyolysis in adulthood. If you or a loved one may be showing signs of rhabdomyolysis, it is important that you seek medical attention immediately.
At the International Network for Fatty Acid Oxidation Research and Management (INFORM), we understand that whether you or someone you love has a fatty acid oxidation disorder, it can be scary and confusing. We want to help. You can check back to learn more about living with these disorders or even ask our fatty acid oxidation experts your questions.
- AAP New & Journals Gateway – Acute Pediatric Rhabdomyolysis: Causes and Rates of Renal Failure
- Neurology – Child Neurology: Recurrent rhabdomyolysis due to a fatty acid oxidation disorder