European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 112, Issue 10, pp 3559–3567 | Cite as

Skeletal muscle glycogen content and particle size of distinct subcellular localizations in the recovery period after a high-level soccer match

  • Joachim NielsenEmail author
  • Peter Krustrup
  • Lars Nybo
  • Thomas P. Gunnarsson
  • Klavs Madsen
  • Henrik Daa Schrøder
  • Jens Bangsbo
  • Niels Ørtenblad
Original Article


Whole muscle glycogen levels remain low for a prolonged period following a soccer match. The present study was conducted to investigate how this relates to glycogen content and particle size in distinct subcellular localizations. Seven high-level male soccer players had a vastus lateralis muscle biopsy collected immediately after and 24, 48, 72 and 120 h after a competitive soccer match. Transmission electron microscopy was used to estimate the subcellular distribution of glycogen and individual particle size. During the first day of recovery, glycogen content increased by ~60% in all subcellular localizations, but during the subsequent second day of recovery glycogen content located within the myofibrils (Intramyofibrillar glycogen, a minor deposition constituting 10–15% of total glycogen) did not increase further compared with an increase in subsarcolemmal glycogen (−7 vs. +25%, respectively, P = 0.047). Conversely, from the second to the fifth day of recovery, glycogen content increased (53%) within the myofibrils compared to no change in subsarcolemmal or intermyofibrillar glycogen (P < 0.005). Independent of location, increment in particle size preceded increment in number of particles. Intriguingly, average particle size decreased; however, in the period from 3 to 5 days after the match. These findings suggest that glycogen storage in skeletal muscle is influenced by subcellular localization-specific mechanisms, which account for an increase in number of glycogen particles located within the myofibrils in the period from 2 to 5 days after the soccer match.


Carbohydrate metabolism Muscle contraction Muscle fatigue Physical exertion Skeletal muscle fibres Glycogen storage disease 



The authors would like to acknowledge the players and their elite soccer clubs for the participation. We would also like to thank Kirsten Hansen, Karin Trampedach, Benthe Jørgensen, Christian Hasson, Fedon Marcello Iaia, Ian Rollo and Sarah R Jackman for excellent technical assistance. This study was supported by grants from The Lundbeck Foundation, Team Denmark (Team Danmark) elite association and the Ministry of Culture Committee on Sports Research (Kulturministeriets Udvalg for Idrætsforskning).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

421_2012_2341_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (270 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 269 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joachim Nielsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter Krustrup
    • 3
    • 4
  • Lars Nybo
    • 3
  • Thomas P. Gunnarsson
    • 3
  • Klavs Madsen
    • 5
  • Henrik Daa Schrøder
    • 2
  • Jens Bangsbo
    • 3
  • Niels Ørtenblad
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Sports Science and Clinical BiomechanicsUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense MDenmark
  2. 2.Institute of PathologyUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense MDenmark
  3. 3.Section of Human Physiology, Department of Exercise and Sport SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ExeterExeterUK
  5. 5.Department of Sport ScienceAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

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