What causes metabolic disorders?


What causes metabolic disorders?

Metabolic disorders develop when normal metabolic processes are disturbed. Normally, food is broken down by the body into simpler components (proteins, fats and sugars) in a highly regulated manner. Metabolic disorders are defined by a breakdown in any one of the steps of this complex process. Disorders in metabolism can be inherited, in which case they are known as inborn errors of metabolism, or they may be acquired. They may also occur as complications of other serious diseases, such as liver or respiratory failure, cancer, end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis), and HIV/AIDS.

Inherited causes of metabolic disorders

There are numerous examples of inherited metabolic disorders, which can be classified based on the type of food-related building block that they affect, including amino acids (the building block for proteins), carbohydrates, and fatty acids (the building block for fats). Inherited causes of metabolic disorders include:

  • Amino acid disorders; examples include Tay-Sachs disease, phenylketonuria, tyrosinemia, maple syrup urine disease, and homocystinuria
  • Carbohydrate disorders; examples include diabetes insipidus, hereditary fructose intolerance, galactosemia, pyruvate metabolism disorders, von Gierke’s disease, McArdle disease, Pompe’s disease, and Forbes’ disease
  • Fatty acid oxidation defects; examples include Gaucher’s disease, Niemann-Pick disease, Fabry’s disease, and medium-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase (MCAD) deficiency

Other causes of metabolic disorders

Metabolic disorders can be due to other factors, such as a combination of inherited and environmental factors. Other examples of conditions that can cause metabolic disorders include:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Diabetes (chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy)
  • Diuretic abuse
  • Gout (type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints)
  • Ingestion of poison or toxins, including excessive aspirin, bicarbonate, alkali, ethylene glycol, or methanol
  • Kidney failure
  • Pneumonia, respiratory failure, or collapsed lung
  • Sepsis (life-threatening bacterial blood infection)


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Journal of Obesity & Eating Disorders