Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme

Physiological aspects of the subcellular localization of glycogen in skeletal muscle.

PMID 23438218


Glucose is stored in skeletal muscle fibers as glycogen, a branched-chain polymer observed in electron microscopy images as roughly spherical particles (known as β-particles of 10-45 nm in diameter), which are distributed in distinct localizations within the myofibers and are physically associated with metabolic and scaffolding proteins. Although the subcellular localization of glycogen has been recognized for more than 40 years, the physiological role of the distinct localizations has received sparse attention. Recently, however, studies involving stereological, unbiased, quantitative methods have investigated the role and regulation of these distinct deposits of glycogen. In this report, we review the available literature regarding the subcellular localization of glycogen in skeletal muscle as investigated by electron microscopy studies and put this into perspective in terms of the architectural, topological, and dynamic organization of skeletal muscle fibers. In summary, the distribution of glycogen within skeletal muscle fibers has been shown to depend on the fiber phenotype, individual training status, short-term immobilization, and exercise and to influence both muscle contractility and fatigability. Based on all these data, the available literature strongly indicates that the subcellular localization of glycogen has to be taken into consideration to fully understand and appreciate the role and regulation of glycogen metabolism and signaling in skeletal muscle. A full understanding of these phenomena may prove vital in elucidating the mechanisms that integrate basic cellular events with changing glycogen content.