Glucagon: celebrating 100 years

2023 marks 100 years since the discovery of glucagon, a peptide hormone produced by the α-cells in pancreatic islets of Langerhans. Glucagon acts to oppose the glucose-lowering effect of insulin by stimulating glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis. Moreover, this factor also exerts effects on amino acid turnover and hepatic lipid oxidation, as well as having a key role in intra-islet crosstalk and b-cell function. Dysregulated glucagon secretion occurs in several metabolic disorders, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, type 1 diabetes mellitus and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. As such, an improved understanding of the regulation of glucagon secretion and its actions could help to treat people affected by these conditions. Glucagon receptor has also been investigated as a drug target, with co-agonist (for example, glucagon and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1)) and tri-agonist (for example, glucagon, GLP1 and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) drugs being developed and tested as anti-diabetic and anti-obesity therapies. To mark 100 years since the discovery of glucagon, Nature Reviews Endocrinology, Nature Metabolism and Nature Communications present a collection of articles exploring our latest understanding of glucagon.

A large glitter disco ball, made up of islet cells, in blues and pinks. The ball is surrounded by stars, circles and stripes.


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