Glucagon appears to be a true hormone with a major function in blood glucose regulation, Roger H. Unger, MD, of Dallas, told the fifth congress of the International Diabetes Federation.
Unger said that glucagon apparently is secreted by the pancreas during times of glucose need. Its primary function appears to be to insure sufficient blood glucose for use by vital tissues, such as the brain, during periods of glucose need.
Glucagon apparently fulfills this role by stimulating hepatic glucose production. Glucagon, therefore, appears to operate in conjunction with insulin to regulate blood glucose levels, Unger said.
Following his address at the Toronto meeting in July, Unger was presented with the 1964 Lilly Award of the American Diabetes Association for his work on the physiological role of glucagon.
Evidence of glucagon's hormonical nature was obtained inferentially by Unger through experiments in dogs and man by observing changes in glucagon secretion under