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Diabetes Obes Metab. 2016 Jul;18(7):648-53. doi: 10.1111/dom.12668. Epub 2016 May 4.

Glucagon orchestrates stress-induced hyperglycaemia.

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Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Tarrytown, NY, USA.


Hyperglycaemia is commonly observed on admission and during hospitalization for medical illness, traumatic injury, burn and surgical intervention. This transient hyperglycaemia is referred to as stress-induced hyperglycaemia (SIH) and frequently occurs in individuals without a history of diabetes. SIH has many of the same underlying hormonal disturbances as diabetes mellitus, specifically absolute or relative insulin deficiency and glucagon excess. SIH has the added features of elevated blood levels of catecholamines and cortisol, which are not typically present in people with diabetes who are not acutely ill. The seriousness of SIH is highlighted by its greater morbidity and mortality rates compared with those of hospitalized patients with normal glucose levels, and this increased risk is particularly high in those without pre-existing diabetes. Insulin is the treatment standard for SIH, but new therapies that reduce glucose variability and hypoglycaemia are desired. In the present review, we focus on the key role of glucagon in SIH and discuss the potential use of glucagon receptor blockers and glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists in SIH to achieve target glucose control.


ICU; critical illness; glucagon; insulin; stress-induced hyperglycaemia

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