Physiological actions of glucagon

Although insulin is the main glucose-lowering hormone, a number of humoral factors may increase blood glucose concentrations, including glucagon, catecholamines, cortisol, and growth hormone. Glucagon is a peptide hormone released by a-cells of the pancreas in response to drops in blood glucose concentration. In vivo experiments in dogs have shown that glucagon secretion increases twofold in response to a fall in glucose from 100 mg/dl (5.6 mmol/l) to 80 mg/dl (4.5 mmol/l).5 The principal target organ of glucagon action is the liver, in which it increases glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis and inhibits glycogenesis and glycolysis.* Glucagon acts via hepatic cell surface G-protein-coupled receptors by a number of intracellular mechanisms whose net result is that hepatic glucose production increases and blood glucose rises. Increasing evidence suggests that, in type 2 diabetes, hyperglucagonemia and/or an imbalance between the glucagon:insulin ratio is present.6

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