Glycogen vs Glucagons: Difference and Comparison

Our body contains different particles and substances for the proper functioning of every organ.

Among them are Glycogen and Glucagon, which sound very similar but are very different in production and their roles. Both of them are considered important circulating compounds in our bodies. 

If any of them is absent, it will lead to an imbalance and instant death. They both have their role and function in our body (making and distributing glucose). They should be studied to make necessary interventions a times of malfunctioning endocrine and metabolism.

Key Takeaways

  1. Glycogen serves as the primary storage form of glucose in the body, whereas glucagon is a hormone that raises blood sugar levels by promoting the breakdown of glycogen.
  2. The liver and muscles store glycogen for quick energy release, while the pancreas produces and releases glucagon to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  3. Glycogen synthesis occurs when blood sugar levels are high, and glucagon secretion occurs when blood sugar levels drop, ensuring a balanced glucose supply for various bodily functions.

Glycogen vs Glucagons 

The difference between glycogen and glucagon is that glucagon is a form of carbohydrate, whereas glucagon is a type of hormone. Both of them are produced and found in different parts of the body, such as glycogen in the liver and glucagon in the pancreas performing their different roles, which are linked to the glucose. Glycogen breaks down into Glucose, and Glucagon is the hormone that helps it in breaking down.

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Glycogen is stored in the liver, kidney, and muscles and is a form of polysaccharide carbohydrate, which also acts as a secondary source of energy for the body. It is important as it is broken down into glucose when required by the body. 

A glucagon is a peptide form of a hormone that is synthesized in the pancreas, which helps in breaking down glycogen into glucose at the time of need.

It is also responsible for stimulating glucose circulation. In the absence of this, glucose will not be formed from the glycogen, which can lead to instant death also (due to lack of sugar).

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonGlycogenGlucagons
DefinitionForm of carbohydrateType of hormone
Form ofSugarHormone
SynthesisedIn liverPancreas
Acts asStorageStimulates for enhancing the glucose circulation
Essential  It is a secondary source of energyWhen glucose level decreases.

What is Glycogen?

In humans and animals, glycogen is the main storage for glucose and is a branched-chain polymer of α-D-glucose. It is very important as when glucose is required in the body, it breaks down to form glucose and is released into the bloodstream. 

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Functions: it is located in the liver and muscle cells mainly. It is produced when the glucose level in the body is high and stored for the time when it is low.

If the body is unable to make the glycogen, Glycogen Storage Diseases take place. These diseases can occur in 1 in 20,000 babies; most of the GSD affects the liver. Symptoms of these diseases could be:

  • Tiredness.
  • Obesity.
  • Blood clotting problems.
  • Kidney problems
  • Breathing and heart problems.

This disease is genetic, i.e. it occurs when there is some issue in the genes which is passed down to the baby. 

Apart from being storage for glucose, it is also considered a secondary source of energy. The process is simple, as when we eat food (glucose), it is converted into glycogen (stored in the liver) and later own converted into glucose by breaking down. 

What are Glucagons?

It is produced in the pancreas and is a type of hormone. The role of Glucagon in the body is as follows: 

  1. To regulate glucose utilization.
  2. Stimulates the liver.
  3. Release the glucose in the blood.
  4. Activate gluconeogenesis.
  5. Break down stored fat.

Glucagon and Blood Glucose level: it is responsible for maintaining the glucose level in the body. It signals the liver at the time of the low level of glucose. In the case of carbohydrates, its levels in the blood fall, and in the case of high protein meals, its level in the blood rises.

Glucagon in diabetes: people with diabetes have a high level of Glucagon. The reason could be either the absence of enough insulin or there is no or less body response to insulin.

There might be a case where the body has an overproduction of Glucagon. In this case, the following symptoms can be seen:

  • Mild Diabetes.
  • Excess weight loss.
  • The problem of necrolytic migratory erythema
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Therefore it becomes very important that a proper level of Glucagon is maintained in the body, but sometimes newborns have less level of glucose, which is due to genes passed down.

Main Differences Between Glycogen and Glucagons

  1. Glycogen is a form of carbohydrate (polysaccharide), whereas Glucagon is a type of hormone that forms the family of secretin. 
  2. Both of them are different in terms of their role in the body, where glycogen is known as storage for glucose in animals and humans. On the other hand, Glucagon is responsible for the increase of sugar or glucose in the body. 
  3. Glycogen and Glucagon are synthesised/found in different body parts. Glycogen is found in large amounts in the liver and very small amounts in the kidneys and muscles, whereas Glucagon is produced in the pancreas only.
  4. Besides acting as storage, Glycogen also performs as a source of energy in the body, and the Glucagon is responsible for stimulating the liver for the conversion of Glycogen into glucose (when the sugar level in the body decreases).
  5. Therefore it is pretty much clear how glycogen is a form of carbohydrate that should be converted into glucose if the sugar level is very low, and to convert this (to complete the process), Glucagon is required, which is a peptide hormone.

Last Updated : 22 June, 2023

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20 thoughts on “Glycogen vs Glucagons: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This article offers a wealth of information about glycogen and glucagon, contributing to a deeper understanding of their critical roles in the body’s metabolic and endocrine systems.

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