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Glycogen is a multibranched polysaccharide of glucose that serves as a form of energy storage in humans, animals and fungi. The polysaccharide structure represents the main storage form of glucose in the body.
In humans, glycogen is made and stored primarily in the cells of the liver and the muscles, hydrated with three or four parts of water. Glycogen functions as the secondary long-term energy storage, with the primary energy stores being fats held in adipose tissue. Muscle glycogen is converted into glucose by muscle cells, and liver glycogen converts to glucose for use throughout the body including the central nervous system.
Glycogen is the analogue of starch, a glucose polymer that functions as energy storage in plants. It has a structure similar to amylopectin (a component of starch), but is more extensively branched and compact than starch. Both are white powders in their dry state. Glycogen is found in the form of granules in the cytosol/cytoplasm in many cell types, and plays an important role in the glucose cycle. Glycogen forms an energy reserve that can be quickly mobilized to meet a sudden need for glucose, but one that is less compact than the energy reserves of triglycerides (lipids).
In the liver, glycogen can make up from 5–6% of the organ's fresh weight (100–120 g in an adult). Only the glycogen stored in the liver can be made accessible to other organs. In the muscles, glycogen is found in a low concentration (1–2% of the muscle mass). The amount of glycogen stored in the body—especially within the muscles, liver, and red blood cells—mostly depends on physical training, basal metabolic rate, and eating habits. Small amounts of glycogen are found in the kidneys, and even smaller amounts in certain glial cells in the brain and white blood cells. The uterus also stores glycogen during pregnancy to nourish the embryo.
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