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Diabetologia. 2007 Feb;50(2):422-30. Epub 2006 Dec 12.

Effect of the amino acid alanine on glucagon secretion in non-diabetic and type 1 diabetic subjects during hyperinsulinaemic euglycaemia, hypoglycaemia and post-hypoglycaemic hyperglycaemia.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Perugia, Via E. Dal Pozzo, 06126, Perugia, Italy.



The aim of our study was to establish whether the well-known defective or absent secretion of glucagon in type 1 diabetes in response to hypoglycaemia is selective or includes lack of responses to other stimuli, such as amino acids.


Responses of glucagon to hypoglycaemia were measured in eight patients with type 1 diabetes and six non-diabetic subjects during hyperinsulinaemic (insulin infusion 0.5 mU kg(-1) min(-1)) and eu-, hypo- and hyperglycaemic clamp studies (sequential steps of plasma glucose 5.0, 2.9, 5.0, 10 mmol/l). Subjects were studied on three randomised occasions with infusion of low- or high-dose alanine, or saline.


With saline, glucagon increased in hypoglycaemia in non-diabetic subjects but not in diabetic subjects. Glucagon increased further with low-dose (181 +/- 16 ng l(-1) min(-1)) and high-dose alanine (238 +/- 20 ng l(-1) min(-1)) in non-diabetic subjects, but only with high-dose alanine in diabetic subjects (area under curve 112 +/- 5 ng l(-1) min(-1)). The alanine-induced glucagon increase in diabetic subjects paralleled the spontaneous glucagon response to hypoglycaemia in non-diabetic subjects not receiving alanine. The greater responses of glucagon to hypoglycaemia with alanine infusion were offset by recovery of eu- or hyperglycaemia.


In type 1 diabetes, the usually deficient responses of glucagon to hypoglycaemia may improve after increasing the concentration of plasma amino acids. Amino acid-enhanced secretion of glucagon in response to hypoglycaemia remains under physiological control since it is regulated primarily by the ambient plasma glucose concentration. These findings might be relevant to improving counter-regulatory defences against insulin-induced hypoglycaemia in type 1 diabetes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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