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noun, plural: glycogens

A branched polymer of glucose that is mainly produced in liver and muscle cells, and functions as secondary long-term energy storage in animal cells.


Glycogen is sometimes referred to as "animal starch." It is an analogue of starch in plants, only it is less branched. Under the microscope, glycogen has a characteristic asterisk or star appearance. When the body needs energy, glycogen is broken down into glucose with glucagon. Small amounts of glycogen can be found in the kidneys, and some glial cells in the brain and white blood cells. The uterus also stores glycogen during pregnancy to nourish the embryo.

See also: glycogenesis