Uterine glycogen metabolism in mink during estrus, embryonic diapause and pregnancy

Matthew Dean, Jason Hunt, Lisa McDougall, Jack Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have determined uterine glycogen content, metabolizing enzyme expression and activity in the mink, a species that exhibits obligatory embryonic diapause, resulting in delayed implantation. Gross uterine glycogen concentrations were highest in estrus, decreased 50% by diapause and 90% in pregnancy (P ≤ 0.05). Endometrial glycogen deposits, which localized primarily to glandular and luminal epithelia, decreased 99% between estrus and diapause (P ≤ 0.05) and were nearly undetectable in pregnancy. Glycogen synthase and phosphorylase proteins were most abundant in the glandular epithelia. Glycogen phosphorylase activity (total) in uterine homogenates was higher during estrus and diapause, than pregnancy. While glycogen phosphorylase protein was detected during estrus and diapause, glycogen synthase was almost undetectable after estrus, which probably contributed to a higher glycogenolysis/glycogenesis ratio during diapause. Uterine glucose-6-phosphatase 3 gene expression was greater during diapause, when compared to estrus (P ≤ 0.05) and supports the hypothesis that glucose-6-phosphate resulting from phosphorylase activity was dephosphorylated in preparation for export into the uterine lumen. The relatively high amount of hexokinase-1 protein detected in the luminal epithelia during estrus and diapause may have contributed to glucose trapping after endometrial glycogen reserves were depleted. Collectively, our findings suggest to us that endometrial glycogen reserves may be an important source of energy, supporting uterine and conceptus metabolism up to the diapausing blastocyst stage. As a result, the size of uterine glycogen reserves accumulated prior to mating may in part, determine the number of embryos that survive to the blastocyst stage, and ultimately litter size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-446
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Reproduction and Development
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Embryonic diapause
  • Glycogen
  • Mink
  • Uterus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'Uterine glycogen metabolism in mink during estrus, embryonic diapause and pregnancy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this