Glycogen and its metabolism

Curr Mol Med. 2002 Mar;2(2):101-20. doi: 10.2174/1566524024605761.


Glycogen is a branched polymer of glucose which serves as a reservoir of glucose units. The two largest deposits in mammals are in the liver and skeletal muscle but many cells are capable synthesizing glycogen. Its accumulation and utilization are under elaborate controls involving primarily covalent phosphorylation and allosteric ligand binding. Both muscle and liver glycogen reserves are important for whole body glucose metabolism and their replenishment is linked hormonally to nutritional status. Control differs between muscle and liver in part due to the existence of different tissue-specific isoforms at key steps. Control of synthesis is shared between transport into the muscle and the step catalyzed by glycogen synthase. Breakdown of liver glycogen, as part of blood glucose homeostasis, is also in response to nutritional cues. Muscle glycogen serves only to fuel muscular activity and its utilization is controlled by muscle contraction and by catecholamines. Though the number of enzymes directly involved in the metabolism of glycogen is quite small, many more proteins act indirectly in a regulatory capacity. Defects in the basic metabolizing enzymes lead to severe consequences whereas, with some exceptions, mutations in the regulatory proteins appear to cause a more subtle phenotypic change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • Glycogen / chemistry*
  • Glycogen / metabolism*
  • Glycogen Phosphorylase
  • Glycoproteins / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • Phenotype
  • alpha-Glucosidases / metabolism


  • Glycoproteins
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • glycogenin
  • Glycogen
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • Glycogen Phosphorylase
  • alpha-Glucosidases
  • Glucose