Differential response of rat skeletal muscle glycogen metabolism to testosterone and estradiol

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1999 Apr;77(4):300-4.


Although reports on sex steroids have implicated them as promoting protein synthesis and also providing extra strength to the skeletal muscle, it remains unclear whether sex steroids affect glycogen metabolism to provide energy for skeletal muscle functions, since glycogen metabolism is one of the pathways that provides energy for the skeletal muscle contraction and relaxation cycle. The purpose of the current study was to show that testosterone and estradiol act differentially on skeletal muscles from different regions, differentially with reference to glycogen metabolism. To study this hypothesis, healthy mature male Wistar rats (90-120 days of age, weighing about 180-200 g) were castrated (a bilateral orchidectomy was performed to test the significance of skeletal muscle glycogen metabolism in the absence of testosterone). One group of castrated rats was supplemented with testosterone (100 microg/100 g body weight, i.m., for 30 days from day 31 postcastration onwards). To test whether estradiol has any effect on male skeletal muscle glycogen metabolism 17beta-estradiol (5 microg/100 g body weight, i.m., for 30 days from day 31 postcastration onwards) was administered to orchidectomized rats. To test whether these sex steroids have any differential effect on skeletal muscles from different regions, skeletal muscles from the temporal region (temporalis), muscle of mastication (masseter), forearm muscle (triceps and biceps), thigh muscle (vastus lateralis and gracilis), and calf muscle (gastrocnemius and soleus) were considered. Castration enhanced blood glucose levels and decreased glycogen stores in skeletal muscle from head, jaw, forearm, thigh, and leg regions. This was accompanied by diminished activity of glycogen synthetase and enhanced activity of muscle phosphorylase. Following testosterone supplementation to castrated rats, a normal pattern of all these parameters was maintained. Estradiol administration to castrated rats did not bring about any significant alteration in any of the parameters. The data obtained suggest a stimulatory effect of testosterone on skeletal muscle glycogenesis and an inhibitory effect on glycogenolysis. Estradiol did not play any significant role in the skeletal muscle glycogen metabolism of male rats.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Castration
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Glycogen / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood


  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Glycogen
  • Corticosterone