Question Video: Stating the Primary Function of Glucagon Biology

Fill in the blank: The primary function of glucagon is to _ the levels of blood glucose.


Video Transcript

Fill in the blank. The primary function of glucagon is to blank the levels of blood glucose. (A) Increase or (B) decrease.

To help us answer this question, let’s recap what glucagon does in the body.

Glucagon is a hormone which is secreted by the pancreas. The pancreas is part of the endocrine, or hormonal, system in the body. The pancreas secretes multiple hormones from its specialized endocrine cells, which are called the islets of Langerhans. The 𝛼-cells in the islets of Langerhans produce glucagon, while the 𝛽-cells produce insulin.

You may remember that insulin is the hormone that brings down blood glucose levels. You may also be familiar with the fact that a lack of insulin, or cells that do not respond properly to insulin, results in a condition called diabetes. Sufferers of diabetes have problems keeping their blood glucose levels under control.

But how does understanding the action of insulin help us answer this question? Well, glucagon and insulin have opposite effects on blood glucose levels. Glucagon is released in response to low blood glucose levels. And it brings about responses in the body that increase blood glucose levels. For example, glucagon stimulates the breakdown of the storage carbohydrate glycogen in the liver. This releases more glucose into the bloodstream. Glucagon also stimulates the production of glucose from noncarbohydrate substrates, such as amino acids.

Let’s use this information and revisit our answer options. We discussed how insulin is responsible for decreasing blood glucose levels. And we know that insulin and glucagon have opposite effects in the body. So, the correct answer to the question is given in option (A). The primary function of glucagon is to increase the levels of blood glucose.

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