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Everything you need to know about this essential hormone for sugar regulation

Did you know that our body is a real chemical factory that works tirelessly to maintain our internal balance? In particular, the regulation of our blood sugar depends on two hormones, one of which is, Glucagonis often less famous than its famous partner,Insulin. In this article, I invite you to discover and deepen your knowledge of glucagon by exploring its structure and production, its main function, and its role in blood sugar regulation.

Glucagon: what is it?

Structure and production

the Glucagon It is a peptide hormone consisting of 29 amino acids. It is produced and secreted by alpha cells located in the islets of Langerhans Pancreas endocrine gland. Glucagon production is regulated by various factors, including blood glucose concentration, amino acids, and digestive hormones.

Glucagon secretion is stimulated by low blood glucose concentration (hypoglycemia) and inhibited by high glucose concentration (hyperglycemia). Amino acids, especially branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), can also stimulate glucagon secretion, especially in the presence of insulin. Gastrointestinal hormones, such as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), may also affect glucagon production by modulating the pancreas' response to metabolic signals.

Glucagon synthesis begins with the production of a precursor, proglucagon, which is cleaved by specific enzymes to form biologically active glucagon. This maturation process is necessary to ensure functional hormone production and to prevent the formation of inactive or harmful peptides.

Basic function

Main function of Glucagon It increases the concentration of glucose in the blood and acts as a hyperglycemic hormone. Glucagon exerts its effects by binding to specific receptors found on the surface of target cells, mainly hepatocytes (hepatocytes) and, to a lesser extent, adipose tissue cells.

When glucagon binds to its receptors, it triggers a series of enzymatic reactions that lead to the mobilization of glucose from hepatic glycogen stores (glycogenolysis) and the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources, such as amino acids and glycerol (gluconeogenesis). These processes increase the concentration of glucose in the blood, thus providing energy to cells and tissues during periods of fasting or metabolic stress.

Glucagon also contributes to the regulation of fat metabolism by stimulating lipolysis, i.e. the breakdown of triglycerides stored in adipocytes (fat cells), into fatty acids and glycerol. These fatty acids are then used as an alternative energy source by tissues, reducing the demand for glucose.

Regulating blood sugar

there Blood sugar It is tightly regulated by a complex feedback system that includes many hormones, including Glucagon And insulin. While insulin lowers blood sugar by promoting glucose uptake by cells and inhibiting glucose production by the liver, glucagon works in the opposite direction to raise blood sugar.

Glucagon's regulation of blood glucose occurs primarily through its effect on hepatic metabolism. In response to low blood glucose, glucagon is secreted by pancreatic alpha cells and acts on hepatocytes to stimulate glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis. These processes increase the concentration of glucose in the blood, thus restoring metabolic balance.

In addition, glucagon contributes to blood sugar regulation through interaction with other hormones and metabolic factors. For example, glucagon regulates insulin action by inhibiting insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells, thus preventing excessive drop in blood sugar. Likewise, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), a gut hormone, regulates glucagon secretion in response to metabolic signals, thus contributing to overall blood glucose homeostasis.

The relationship between glucagon and insulin

to'Insulin Glucagon and Glucagon are like dancers performing complex dances to keep blood sugar levels balanced. When the blood sugar level rises, for example after eating a meal rich in vitamins CarbohydratesThe pancreas secretes insulin. Insulin enhances the uptake of glucose by our cells, thus lowering blood sugar levels. Conversely, when our blood sugar levels drop, for example during fasting or intense exercise, the pancreas secretes glucagon to increase the concentration of glucose in the blood.

Glucagon in the treatment of hypoglycemia and diabetes

lack of blood sugar

Glucagon can be used as Treatment of hypoglycemia In case of emergency. For example, people with diabetes may need: Injection of glucagon if their blood sugar drops too quickly and they are unable to take sugar orally. Products such as Eli Lilly's GlucaGen HypoKit or Novo Nordisk's Baqsimi are examples of glucagon-based treatments available on the market.

Diabetes

In the context of diabetes, glucagon is not generally used as first-line treatment. However, it can be given in cases of severe hypoglycemia, as mentioned previously. Diabetes control depends more on the administration of insulin and other antidiabetic medications.

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1)

Function and mechanism of action

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is another hormone produced by the body, which has a similar structure to glucagon. GLP-1 has several functions, including stimulating insulin secretion and reducing glucagon production. Additionally, it slows gastric emptying and promotes satiety, which may help regulate food intake and body weight.

GLP-1 agonists in the treatment of diabetes

GLP-1 agonists are a class of medications used to treat type 2 diabetes. These medications work by mimicking the action of GLP-1, resulting in increased insulin secretion, decreased glucagon production and lower blood sugar. Examples of GLP-1 agonists include exenatide (Byetta, Bydureon) and liraglutide (Victoza, Saxenda).

Your frequently asked questions

What is the difference between glucagon and insulin?

Glucagon and insulin are two hormones produced by the pancreas. Insulin helps lower blood sugar by promoting glucose uptake by cells, while glucagon increases blood sugar by stimulating the release of glucose from the liver.

What is the importance of glucagon for diabetics?

Glucagon is important for people with diabetes because it can be used in emergency situations to treat severe hypoglycemia, when the blood sugar level drops too quickly and a person cannot take sugar orally.

How does glucagon work in the body?

GLP-1 is a hormone produced by the body that has a similar structure to glucagon. It has several functions, including stimulating insulin secretion, reducing glucagon production, and slowing gastric emptying.

What is glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1)?

GLP-1 is a hormone produced by the body that has a similar structure to glucagon. It has several functions, including stimulating insulin secretion, reducing glucagon production, and slowing gastric emptying.

How are GLP-1 agonists used to treat type 2 diabetes?

GLP-1 agonists are medications that work by mimicking the action of GLP-1, resulting in increased insulin secretion, decreased glucagon production, and lower blood sugar. They are used as a treatment for people with type 2 diabetes who cannot control their blood sugar with other available treatments.

How is glucagon given in emergency situations?

Glucagon is usually given by intramuscular or subcutaneous injection in emergency situations. It is available as a kit that contains a syringe prefilled with saline and a vial of glucagon powder. Mixing should be done immediately before injection.

Can you buy glucagon without a prescription?

No, glucagon is a prescription drug and can only be purchased if prescribed by a doctor.

What to remember

Glucagon is an essential hormone that plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels. Working alongside insulin, glucagon helps maintain a delicate balance essential to our health. Although glucagon is not a first-line treatment for diabetes, it can be used in emergency situations to treat hypoglycemia.

Everything you need to know about this essential hormone for sugar regulation

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