Relationship of Glucagon to Exocrine Pancreatic Secretion and Its Use in Acute Pancreatitis

  • E. P. Dimagno
Conference paper


Physiologic amounts of intravenously administered glucagon inhibit both exogenously (1, 2) (intravenous secretin and CCK) and endogenously (3) (small amounts of intraduodenal esential amino acids) stimulated exocrine pancreatic secretion. Furthermore, if endogenous glucagon secretion is stimulated by either delivering a large amino acid loan to the small intestine or by administering amino acids intravenously, exocrine pancreatic enzyme secretion is significantly reduced (3). Because glucagon inhibits exocrine pancreatic secretion during health and also during acute pancreatitis (4), it has been proposed as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of acute pancreatitis. However in prospective, randomized, clinical trials it is associated with the same mortality rate as treatment with placebo (5). In a recent small randomized control trial in patients with acute pancreatitis, the use of glucagon (5 kg/h) plus cimetidine (2 mg/kg/h) was associated with a greater incidence of complications than in patients treated with nasogastric suction or cimetidine in this same trial; the administration of cimetidine alone or with glucagon did not improve the outcome of acute pancreatitis when compared with nasogastric suction (5). Therefore although glucagon inhibits exocrine pancreatic secretion in health and in acute pancreatitis, it is not of benefit in the treatment of acute pancreatitis when used alone or in combination with cimetidine.


Acute Pancreatitis Great Incidence Mayo Clin Proc Exocrine Secretion Exocrine Pancreatic Secretion 
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  1. 1.
    Dyck WP, Rudick J, Hoester B et al. (1969) Influence of glucagon on pancreatic exocrine secretion. Gastroenterology 56: 531–537PubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Dyck WP, Texter EC jr, Lasater JM et al. (1970) Influence of glucagon on pancreatic exocrine secretion in man. Gastroenterology 58: 532–539PubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Dimagno EP, Go VLW, Summerskill WHJ (1973) Intraluminal and postabsorptive effects of amino acids on pancreatic enzyme secretion. J Lab Clin Med 82: 241–248PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Regan PT, Malagelada JR, Go VLW, Wolf AM, Dimagno EP (1981) A prospective study of the anti-secretory and therapeutic effects of cimetidine and glucagon in human acute pancreatitis. Mayo Clin Proc 56: 499–503PubMedGoogle Scholar
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    M.R.C. (Medical Research Council) (1977) Multicentre trial of glucagon and aprotinin: death from acute pancreatitis. Lancet 2: 632–635Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. P. Dimagno

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