Based on the lack of accurate methods for glucagon analysis, it has been suggested that glucagon levels are elevated in subjects with type 1 diabetes. The availability of more specific methods for the determination of glucagon has indicated that actual glucagon levels are lower than previously assumed. This study aimed to characterize fasting glucagon levels in subjects with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) compared to their nondiabetic counterparts using two different assays. We recruited 20 healthy, 20 T1D and 20 T2D subjects for the trial. Glucagon samples were obtained using BD P800 blood collection tubes and measured with a double-antibody sandwich ELISA (Mercodia) and a RIA (MP Biomedicals). Using the ELISA, healthy subjects had similar glucagon levels compared to T1D. ELISA based glucagon measurements demonstrated significantly higher fasting glucagon levels in T2D as compared to healthy subjects, while RIA measurements tend to be numerically higher, albeit not statistically different (p=0.201). Median glucagon values obtained by RIA were significantly (p=0.0001) higher than those measured by ELISA in a pooled analysis.

In conclusion, T2D show fasting hyperglucagonaemia, whereas T1D present with similar fasting glucagon levels compared to nondiabetic subjects. Furthermore, this study highlights the importance of selective analysis methods in endocrine research.

M. Brunner: None. M. Haberlander: None. E. Svehlikova: None. K. Eberhard: None. E. Stach: None. R. Lipp: None. B.M. Obermayer-Pietsch: None. T.R. Pieber: Consultant; Self; Arecor, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly and Company, Novo Nordisk A/S, Sanofi. Employee; Self; CBmed. Research Support; Self; Novo Nordisk A/S, AstraZeneca. H. Sourij: Speaker's Bureau; Self; Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, Novo Nordisk A/S, Amgen Inc., Sanofi, MSD K.K.. Research Support; Self; AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, MSD K.K., GI Dynamics Inc..

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at