Ten patients who had been totally duodeno-pancreatectomized and totally (N = 1) or partially gastrectomized (N = 9) for chronic pancreatitis (N = 9) or pancreatic carcinoma (N = 1) were investigated. None had a measurable basal level of either plasma C-peptide or a C-peptide response to i.v. glucagon. Immunoreactive glucagon (IRG) was present in all patients, and the mean level (69 ± 8 pg/ml) was not significantly different from the mean observed in normal subjects (81 ±16 pg/ml). Plasma IRG was unequivocally stimulated by arginine in 2 of the 10 subjects. The effect of somatostatin on plasma glucose and IRG during an oral glucose tolerance test was studied in 5 of the 10 patients. The effects of somatostatin on spontaneous hyperglycemia, plasma growth hormone, and IRG after withdrawal of insulin treatment was studied in 4 patients. Somatostatin blunted both the hyperglycemic and paradoxical IRG responses to the glucose challenge, and reduced the spontaneous rise of blood glucose that occurred after insulin withdrawal. This latter effect was not related to clear-cut changes in plasma growth hormone or in IRG. These data confirm the existence of circulating IRG in pancreatectomized patients and demonstrate the presence of circulating IRG in a completely gastrectomized and pancreatectomized patient. The somatostatin-induced improvement in glucose tolerance in the oral glucose tolerance test seems to be related to a reduction of the paradoxical IRG response. In contrast, the inhibition by somatostatin of the rise in blood glucose which occurs after insulin withdrawal does not seem to be mediated through IRG or growth hormone.

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