Assessment of individual and standardized glucagon kinetics in healthy humans

Marcello C. Laurenti, Adrian Vella, Jon D. Adams, Daniel J. Schembri Wismayer, Aoife M. Egan, Chiara Dalla Man

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Impaired glucose tolerance arises out of impaired postprandial insulin secretion and delayed suppression of glucagon. These defects occur early and independently in the pathogenesis of prediabetes. Quantification of the contribution of a-cell dysfunction to glucose tolerance has been lacking because knowledge of glucagon kinetics in humans is limited. Therefore, in a series of experiments examining the interaction of glucagon suppression with insulin secretion we studied 51 nondiabetic subjects (age = 54 ± 13 yr, BMI = 28 ± 4 kg/m2). Glucose was infused to mimic the systemic appearance of an oral challenge. Somatostatin was used to inhibit endogenous hormone secretion. 120 min after the start of the experiment, glucagon was infused at 0.65 ng/ kg/min. The rise in glucagon concentrations was used to estimate its kinetic parameters [volume of distribution (Vd), half-life (t1/2), and clearance rate (CL)]. A single-exponential model provided the best fit for the data, and individualized kinetic parameters were estimated: Vd = 8.2 ± 2.7 L, t1/2=4 ± 1.1 min, CL = 1.4 ± 0.33 L/min. Stepwise linear regression was used to correlate Vd with BMI and sex (R2adj = 0.44), whereas CL similarly correlated with lean body mass or BSA (both R2 = 0.28). This enabled the development of a population-based model using anthropometric characteristics to predict Vd and CL. These data demonstrate that it is feasible to derive glucagon kinetic parameters from anthropometric characteristics, thereby enabling quantitation of the rate of glucagon appearance in the systemic circulation in large populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E71-E77
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • A-cell
  • Clearance
  • Glucagon
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • Prediabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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