Glycogen is a vital energy substrate for anaerobic organisms, and the size of glycogen stores can be a limiting factor for anoxia tolerance of animals. To this end, glycogen stores in 12 different tissues of the crucian carp (Carassius carassius L.), an anoxia-tolerant fish species, were examined. Glycogen content of different tissues was 2–10 times higher in winter (0.68–18.20% of tissue wet weight) than in summer (0.12–4.23%). In scale, bone and brain glycogen stores were strongly dependent on body mass (range between 0.6 and 785 g), small fish having significantly more glycogen than large fish (p < 0.05). In fin and skin, size dependence was evident in winter, but not in summer, while in other tissues (ventricle, atrium, intestine, liver, muscle, and spleen), no size dependence was found. The liver was much bigger in small than large fish (p < 0.001), and there was a prominent enlargement of the liver in winter irrespective of fish size. As a consequence, the whole body glycogen reserves, measured as a sum of glycogen from different tissues, varied from 6.1% of the body mass in the 1-g fish to 2.0% in the 800-g fish. Since anaerobic metabolic rate scales down with body size, the whole body glycogen reserves could provide energy for approximately 79 and 88 days of anoxia in small and large fish, respectively. There was, however, a drastic difference in tissue distribution of glycogen between large and small fish: in the small fish, the liver was the major glycogen store (68% of the stores), while in the large fish, the white myotomal muscle was the principal deposit of glycogen (57%). Since muscle glycogen is considered to be unavailable for blood glucose regulation, its usefulness in anoxia tolerance of the large crucian carp might be limited, although not excluded. Therefore, mobilization of muscle glycogen under anoxia needs to be rigorously tested.
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This study was supported by a grant (No. 14795) from the Academy of Finland to MV. Anita Kervinen is appreciated for her technical assistance.
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Vornanen, M., Asikainen, J. & Haverinen, J. Body mass dependence of glycogen stores in the anoxia-tolerant crucian carp (Carassius carassius L.). Naturwissenschaften 98, 225–232 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-011-0764-5
- Anoxia tolerance
- Glycogen stores