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Characterization of the responses of circulating glucagon-like immunoreactivity to intraduodenal and intravenous administration of glucose

Roger H. Unger, Akira Ohneda, Isabel Valverde, A. M. Eisentraut and John Exton

Department of Internal Medicine, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas, Veterans Hospital, Dallas, TexasDepartment of Physiology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Published January 1968

The effects of ingested and infused glucose upon circulating glucagon-like immunoreactivity (GLI) were compared in 14 triply catheterized conscious dogs. Within 60 min after the intraduodenal administration of 2 g/kg of glucose, the mean level of glucagon-like immunoreactivity in the vena caval plasma more than doubled, whereas after intravenous infusion of the same dose over a 90 min period no change in the mean vena caval level was observed; during glucose infusion mean glucagon-like immunoreactivity in the pancreatic venous effluent declined, suggesting that hyperglycemia suppresses rather than stimulates pancreatic glucagon secretion.

To determine if the rise in glucagon-like immunoreactivity that occurs during glucose absorption was of pancreatic origin, the effect of pancreatectomy performed 1 hr after the intraduodenal administration of glucose was determined. Although circulating insulin disappeared after resection of the pancreas, the level of glucagon-like immunoreactivity continued to rise, establishing its extrapancreatic origin. In other experiments, measurements of Glucagon-like immunoreactivity in plasma obtained simultaneously from pancreaticoduodenal and mesenteric veins and from the vena cava revealed the increment after intraduodenal glucose loading to be greatest in the mesenteric vein in 8 of 12 experiments, favoring the gut as the likely source of the rise.

To characterize gut glucagon-like immunoreactivity, acid-alcohol extracts of canine jejunum were compared with similar glucagon-containing extracts of canine pancreas with respect to certain physical and biological properties. On a G-25 Sephadex column the elution volume of the jejunal immunoreactivity was found to be smaller than that of glucagon, which suggested a molecular size at least twice that of pancreatic glucagon. Furthermore, the in vivo and in vitro biological activities of the eluates containing jejunal glucagon-like immunoreactivity appeared to differ from those of eluates containing pancreatic glucagon. The jejunal material lacked hyperglycemic activity when injected endoportally into dogs, was devoid of glycogenolytic activity in the isolated perfused rat liver, and did not increase hepatic 3′,5′ cyclic adenylate in the perfused liver; however, like glucagon it appeared to stimulate insulin release. It seems quite clear the material in intestinal extracts either is a different substance or a different form from that of true pancreatic glucagon, although it crossreacts in the radioimmunoassay with antibodies to glucagon.

It is concluded, (a) that hyperglycemia does not stimulate and probably suppresses the secretion of pancreatic glucagon; (b) that during intestinal absorption of glucose, a rise in glucagon-like immunoreactivity occurs; (c) this immunoreactivity is derived from an extrapancreatic site, probably the gut; (d) that the glucagon-like immunoreactivity extractable from jejunum is not the same as pancreatic glucagon but is a larger molecule devoid of hyperglycemic and glycogenolytic activity, a cross-reactant in radioimmunoassay for glucagon; and (e) that the eluate in which jejunal immunoreactivity is contained can stimulate insulin release in conscious dogs.

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