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Circ Shock. 1986;19(4):393-407.

Glucagon: endocrine effects and calcium involvement in cardiovascular actions in dogs.


Although the cardiovascular effects of glucagon are understood, its mechanism(s) of action remains unclear. We studied the effects of increasing doses of glucagon (0.001, 0.01, 0.1 mg/kg) on cardiovascular responses in dogs relative to concurrent measurements of circulating glucagon, cyclic AMP, glucose, norepinephrine, epinephrine, triiodothyronine, thyroxine, and cortisol levels. Glucagon-induced increases in plasma cyclic AMP, glucose, and catecholamine concentrations paralleled the heart rate response to glucagon administration. Further studies were conducted to evaluate the role of beta-adrenergic function as well as calcium in mediating glucagon's actions. The tachycardic effects of glucagon (0.01 mg/kg) were unaltered by prior beta-adrenergic receptor blockade with propranolol (3.5 mg/kg total dose). The calcium antagonist verapamil (0.2 mg/kg bolus then 7.5 micrograms/kg/min/infusion) prevented glucagon-induced increases in heart rate. However, the coadministration of glucagon (0.01 mg/kg) with calcium (1.0, 5.0, 10.0, or 50.0 mg/kg) did not alter glucagon's cardiovascular effects. These data indicate that glucagon is a potent tachycardiac agent that also elevates circulating endocrine-related substances. The antagonism of glucagon's tachycardiac effects by verapamil suggests that glucagon's action may be via glucagon-induced calcium movement through calcium channels, although extracellular calcium changes do not alter glucagon's effect. Furthermore, the persistence of glucagon's cardiovascular actions following beta-adrenergic blockade indicates the potential clinical utility of glucagon in reversing the adverse effects of beta-blocker overdoses, and its potential usefulness in treating circulatory shock in "beta-blocked" patients.

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