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Am J Physiol. 1987 Aug;253(2 Pt 1):E208-13.

Hyperglucagonemia during insulin deficiency accelerates protein catabolism.


Hyperglucagonemia coexists with insulin deficiency or insulin resistance in many conditions where urinary nitrogen excretion is increased, but the precise role of glucagon in these conditions is controversial. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of hyperglucagonemia on protein metabolism in insulin-deficient subjects. We used the stable isotope of an essential amino acid (L-[1-13C]leucine) as a tracer of in vivo protein metabolism. A combined deficiency of insulin and glucagon was induced by intravenous infusion of somatostatin. Hyperglucagonemia and hypoinsulinemia were induced by infusions of somatostatin and glucagon. When somatostatin alone was infused leucine flux increased, indicating a 6-17% increase in proteolysis. When somatostatin and glucagon were infused, leucine flux increased, indicating a 12-32% increase in proteolysis. The increase in leucine flux during the infusion of somatostatin and glucagon was higher than the increase during infusion of somatostatin alone. Somatostatin alone did not change leucine oxidation, whereas the somatostatin plus glucagon increased leucine oxidation 100%. We conclude that hyperglucagonemia accelerates proteolysis and leucine oxidation in insulin-deficient humans.

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