Recent questions concerning the role of glucagon as a hormone of “glucose need” prompted this evaluation of glucose-glucagon relationships. To obviate certain problems relating to the sensitivity and specificity of the glucagon radioimmunoassay of peripheral venous plasma, glucagon was assayed in pancreatic venous effluent plasma obtained from conscious dogs with indwelling catheters in the pancreaticoduodenal vein. The effect of change in glucose concentration upon the pancreaticoduodenal vein glucagon concentration was determined.

Insulin induced hypoglycemia was uniformly associated with a rise in pancreaticoduodenal vein glucagon concentration to a peak of 5.7 mμg./ml. at thirty minutes. The hyperglucagonemia continued intermittently during the hypoglycemic period but fell promptly during hyperglycemia induced by rapid injection of glucose.

Hyperglycemia, induced in fifteen dogs by glucose infusion, was accompanied by a decline of glucagon from 2.7 to 1.8 mμg./ml. Cataglycemia, induced by rapid termination of a glucose infusion, produced a rise of glucagon in three of six dogs.

Stimulation of glucagon secretion by hyperaminoacidemia was blocked by hyperglycemia induced by glucose infusion. The effect of starvation upon twenty-four-hour secretion of glucagon could not be determined in these studies. Wide variations in pancreaticoduodenal vein glucagon concentration made meaningful comparison of day-to-day changes impossible.

A statistically significant negative correlation was observed between rapidly induced change in plasma glucose concentration and change in pancreaticoduodenal vein glucagon levels. The findings are compatible with the view that glucagon is a hormone of glucose need, which probably functions in the moment-to-moment regulation of blood glucose homeostasis and the maintenance of the so-called “normal” blood glucose limits.

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