Diabetes & Glucagon

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Glucagon is one of the hormones secreted by your pancreas in order to control the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood stream. Glucagon secreted into your blood, travels to your liver (and a number of other organs) where it binds to a receptor on the cell membranes and stimulates the cells to convert the stored molecules of glycogen (literally, a stored form of sugar molecules) into glucose. The converted glucose can then be released into your blood stream in order to increase your blood sugar level. In this way glucagon has the opposite effect on the body to insulin (as it increases your blood sugar levels whereas insulin reduces them) however, glucagon also actually stimulates insulin production. This is because insulin is needed to allow the cells of your body (such as your muscle cells) to be able to absorb the glucose from your blood stream. If you are diabetic, the action of glucagon will be reduced because it will be unable to stimulate the production of insulin (due to the fact that diabetes prevents your body from being able to produce insulin, or reduces your body’s response to it). This means that, although the glucagon will have increased your blood sugar level (by stimulating the release of glucose into your blood stream), the cells of your body will be unable to absorb this sugar within the help of insulin.   

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