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Glucagon metabolism in normal subjects and in cirrhotic patients before and after portasystemic venous shunt surgery


The effect of portasystemic shunt surgery on basal immunoreactive glucagon (IRG) levels, metabolic clearance rate (MCR) and t 1/2 for glucagon decay, and basal systemic delivery rate (BSDR) of glucagon was investigated in paired studies in ten cirrhotic subjects. The degree of hepatocellular dysfunction and extent of portasystemic venous shunting was also recorded. Basal IRG levels were highest in the post-shunt (mean +/- SEM, 382 +/- 73 pg/ml) as compared to the pre-shunt (213 +/- 27 pg/ml; P less than 0.05) cirrhotic and control (53 +/- 13 pg/ml; P less than 0.005) groups. The MCR of glucagon was similar in control (13.0 +/- 1.3 ml/kg/min) and pre-shunt cirrhotic patients (13.3 +/- 1.7 ml/kg/min) but was significantly (P less than 0.02) decreased in the post-shunt cirrhotics (7.6 +/- 1.3 ml/kg/min). The t 1/2 for glucagon decay was similar in the control and cirrhotic groups. The BSDR, an estimate of pancreatic A cell secretion, was increased four-fold (P less than 0.01) in the pre-shunt (3042 +/- 454 pg/kg/min) and post-shunt (2518 +/- 535 pg/kg/min) cirrhotic groups, as compared to controls (750 +/- 244 pg/kg/min). It is concluded that (a) in the presence of cirrhosis, the magnitude of portasystemic shunting is important in determining the degree of hyperglucagonaemia; (b) in preshunt cirrhotics raised basal IRG levels are principally due to A cell hypersecretion of glucagon whereas in post-shunt cirrhotics riased IRG levels reflect both A cell hypersecretion and delayed clearance of glucagon; and (c) acute shunting of splanchnic venous blood away from the liver reduces the clearance of glucagon, suggesting that, in man, the liver contributes to the clearance of circulating glucagon.

Type Journal
ISBN 0300-0664 (Print)
Authors Alford, F. P.;Dudley, F. J.;Chisholm, D. J.;Findlay, D. M. :
Published Date 1979-01-01
Published Volume 11
Published Issue 4
Published Pages 413-24
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version