The Roles of Glucagon and Insulin in Diabetes

A brief summary of the key hormone players in diabetes.


It is pretty common knowledge that diabetes is caused by an inability to regulate the levels of sugar in your blood properly. What is, perhaps, a bit less familiar to most of us, is what regulates those levels to begin with. Like many other bodily functions, blood sugar levels are a function of hormones. In this case, glucagon and insulin to be precise.

The healthy body needs to maintain blood glucose levels within a pretty narrow range, which is what these hormones are supposed to do. Both of these hormones arise in the pancreas, and they have a complex, intricate interrelationship that ultimately determines whether or not your body will be able to maintain glucose levels in the optimal range. Interestingly, the research shows that these hormones work in opposite directions—hence how they work, in tandem, to create balance.

These hormones play a fundamental role in responding to and maintaining blood sugar levels. As the blood sugar increases so does the production of insulin in response. Conversely, glucagon is secreted by the liver when blood sugar levels are low.

Research is helping us better understand how the body produces and maintains blood sugar levels—information that is of vital importance to anyone with diabetes. Recent findings have shown that two hormones in the pancreas, glucagon, and insulin, work together to maintain the body’s blood sugar level. Grasping the interplay and how these hormones work in tandem could lead to more targeted and streamlined treatment options that focus on the imbalance in the regulatory chemicals.


Endocrineweb. URL Link. Accessed April 20, 2017.