Glucagon is a polypeptide hormone secreted by the endocrine part of the pancreas (the pancreatic islets or islets of Langerhans). It has hyperglycemic action and therefore, it is an antagonist of insulin (produced by β cells). The administration of glucagon causes a rapid decrease of hepatic glycogen and an increase of in blood glucose levels. These effects are the result of the activation of the glycogen phosphorylase enzyme and inhibition of glycogen synthase, resulting in release of glucose. Glucagon secretion is stimulated by the states of hypoglycemia (the greatest stimulus of glucagon’s activity is fasting and physical activity of medium to high intensity for longer periods of time).


What is Glucagon?

Glucagon is a hyperglycemic hormone and an antagonist of insulin. Its use may be necessary in case of severe hypoglycemic crisis caused by excessive administration of insulin or other glucose-lowering medication.


How should Glucagon be taken?

Glucagon can be administered subcutaneously, intramuscularly or intravenously.


Side effects associated with Glucagon

The side effects associated with the use of glucagon are very rare. Among the most common ones include nausea and vomiting , especially when doses higher than 1 mg are taken or a rapid injection (performed in less than 1 minute) is administered. Glucagon can also increase heart rate levels (tachycardia). In rare cases, hypersensitivity may occur.   


Contraindications and warnings associated with the use of Glucagon

Glucagon does not affect the ability to drive. Since Glucagon does not cross the placental barrier, it displays no harmful effects during pregnancy or to the health of the fetus. 

The amount excreted from women who are lactating after treatment for hypoglycemia is extremely low and because glucagon is not functioning in such cases, it cannot be absorbed in its intact form. Thus, it has no metabolic effect on nursing infants. There is no contraindication to the use of Glucagon during pregnancy and breast-feeding.