2.152 Glycogen

Glycogen is similar to starch in that it is a storage form of glucose. Glycogen, however, is the carbohydrate storage form in animals, rather than plants. It is even more highly branched than amylopectin, as shown below.

Figure 2.1521 Structure of glycogen

Like amylopectin, the branch points of glycogen are alpha 1-6 glycosidic bonds, while the linear bonds are alpha 1-4 bonds, as shown below.

Figure 2.1522 Structure of glycogen1

The advantage of glycogen’s highly branched structure is that the multiple ends (shown in red above) are where enzymes start to cleave off glucose molecules. As a result, with many ends available, it can provide glucose much more quickly to the body than it could if it was a linear molecule like amylose with only two ends. We consume almost no glycogen, because it is rapidly broken down by enzymes in animals after slaughter2.

References & Links

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Glycogen.png

2. Whitney E, Rolfes SR. (2008) Understanding nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.