Glycogen at the Crossroad of Stress Resistance, Energy Maintenance, and Pathophysiology of Aging

Bioessays. 2018 Sep;40(9):e1800033. doi: 10.1002/bies.201800033. Epub 2018 Jun 13.


Glycogen is synthesized and stored to maintain postprandial blood glucose homeostasis and to ensure an uninterrupted energy supply between meals. Although the regulation of glycogen turnover has been well studied, the effects of glycogen on aging and disease development have been largely unexplored. In Caenorhabditis elegans fed a high sugar diet, glycogen potentiates resistance to oxidants, but paradoxically, shortens lifespan. Depletion of glycogen by oxidants or inhibition of glycogen synthesis extends the lifespan of worms by an AMPK-dependent mechanism. Thus, glycogen is not merely an inert storage molecule, but also an active regulator of energy balance and aging. Its depletion by oxidants may be beneficial in the treatment of hyperglycemia and glycogen-related diseases.

Keywords: AMPK; aging; glucose; glutathione; glycogen; oxidative stress.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Glycogen / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Oxidants / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Oxidants
  • Glycogen