A rapid extraction method for glycogen from formalin-fixed liver

Carbohydr Polym. 2015 Mar 15;118:9-15. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2014.11.005. Epub 2014 Nov 15.


Liver glycogen, a highly branched polymer, acts as our blood-glucose buffer. While past structural studies have extracted glycogen from fresh or frozen tissue using a cold-water, sucrose-gradient centrifugation technique, a method for the extraction of glycogen from formalin-fixed liver would allow the analysis of glycogen from human tissues that are routinely collected in pathology laboratories. In this study, both sucrose-gradient and formalin-fixed extraction techniques were carried out on piglet livers, with the yields, purities and size distributions (using size exclusion chromatography) compared. The formalin extraction technique, when combined with a protease treatment, resulted in higher yields (but lower purities) of glycogen with size distributions similar to the sucrose-gradient centrifugation technique. This formalin extraction procedure was also significantly faster, allowing glycogen extraction throughput to increase by an order of magnitude. Both extraction techniques were compatible with mass spectrometry proteomics, with analysis showing the two techniques were highly complementary.

Keywords: Formalin; Glycogen extraction; SEC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Formaldehyde / chemistry*
  • Glycogen / chemistry
  • Glycogen / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Liver / chemistry*
  • Swine


  • Formaldehyde
  • Glycogen