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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Aug 1;103(8):2843-2850. doi: 10.1210/jc.2017-01759.

Insulin Regulates Glycogen Synthesis in Human Endometrial Glands Through Increased GYS2.

Author information

Section of Reproductive Endocrinology, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
Section of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.



Glycogen synthesis is a critical metabolic function of the endometrium to prepare for successful implantation and sustain embryo development. Yet, regulation of endometrial carbohydrate metabolism is poorly characterized. Whereas glycogen synthesis is attributed to progesterone, we previously found that the metabolic B isoform of the insulin receptor is maximally expressed in secretory-phase endometrium, indicating a potential role of insulin in glucose metabolism.


We sought to determine whether insulin or progesterone regulates glycogen synthesis in human endometrium.

Design, Participants, Outcome Measurements:

Endometrial epithelial cells were isolated from 28 healthy women and treated with insulin, medroxyprogesterone (MPA), or vehicle. Intracellular glycogen and the activation of key enzymes were quantified.


In epithelia, insulin induced a 4.4-fold increase in glycogen, whereas MPA did not alter glycogen content. Insulin inactivated glycogen synthase (GS) kinase 3α/β (GSK3α/β), relieving inhibition of GS. In a regulatory mechanism, distinct from liver and muscle, insulin also increased GS by 3.7-fold through increased GS 2 (GYS2) gene expression.


We demonstrate that insulin, not progesterone, directly regulates glycogen synthesis through canonical acute inactivation of GSK3α/β and noncanonical stimulation of GYS2 transcription. Persistently elevated GS enables endometrium to synthesize glycogen constitutively, independent of short-term nutrient flux, during implantation and early pregnancy. This suggests that insulin plays a key, physiological role in endometrial glucose metabolism and underlines the need to delineate the effect of maternal obesity and hyperinsulinemia on fertility and fetal development.

[Available on 2019-08-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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