Quantitative assessment of human muscle glycogen granules size and number in subcellular locations during recovery from prolonged exercise
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Although data relating to muscle glycogen are interpreted as showing it is homogenous when quantified biochemically, it is actually in granules in specific subcellular locations. We hypothesized that postexercise restoration of muscle glycogen would occur initially by an increase in granule number followed by an increase in size, and also that restoration would differ in various subcellular locations. Five men performed prolonged exercise and had muscle biopsies taken at 0, 4, 24 and 48 h of recovery. We quantified granule number and size as well as the total volume of glycogen in the subsarcolemmal and the intra- and intermyofibrillar regions, using transmission electron microscopy. Muscle glycogen was reduced to 36 +/- 8.3 mmol glucosyl units (kg dry weight)(-1) at exhaustion, and was preferentially depleted and subsequently repleted in the intramyofibrillar space. The repletion rate was greatest in the first 4 h; this was associated with a 186% increase in number (P < or = 0.05) and no change in particle size (P > or = 0.05). From 4 h to 48 h, there was an increase in particle size (P < or = 0.05) but not number (P > or = 0.05). Net rate of G volume synthesis per unit area was 50% greater (P < or = 0.05) in the subsarcolemmal than the myofibrillar compartment. Conversely, the net rate of single-particle volume synthesis was greater (P < or = 0.05) in the myofibrillar than the subsarcolemmal compartment. Glycogen granules varied in size and number depending on location, and in all compartments resynthesis of glycogen was characterized initially by an increase in granule number and later by an increase in size.