Difference Between Insulin and Glucagon (With Table)

Our body is not just skin and bones. It consists of various tiny particles and fluids, which contribute to keeping it healthy and also protect it from any disease that can harm it. While we all are aware of the blood and its particles and glycogen but not many know about glucagon, which sounds similar to it. Also, insulin is not something new we all have studied it once. But what only a few know is the difference between insulin and glucagon as they few similarities among themselves but are very different from each other.

Therefore, below is all the information related to both insulin and glucagon and how both of them are not the same.

Insulin vs Glucagon 

The difference between Insulin and Glucagon is that Insulin and Glucagon responses different towards the blood sugar level of the body. Insulin reduces the sugar level in the body, while Glucagon does the total opposite of it and increases the level. Despite having similarities in secreting through the pancreas, they are secreted through different cells present in the pancreas. They also differ in terms of their impact, and function, etc.

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the beta cells present in the pancreas and is responsible for maintaining the sugar level in the body by decreasing it and is the main anabolic hormone present in the body. It is also responsible for the absorption of glucose. It inhibits or decreases glucagon formation to maintain a balance of sugar levels and promotes the formation of glycogen.

Glucagon is also a hormone secreted in the pancreas by the alpha cells of it, and in the body, it is the main catabolic hormone. It is responsible for increasing the glucose concentration along with fatty acids. They also attach themselves with the liver cells of the body and responsible for breaking down the glycogen. In the absence of it, the sugar level will decrease.

Comparison Table Between Insulin and Glucagon

Parameters of ComparisonInsulinGlucagon
Sugar levelReduces the levelIncreases the level
SecretionBeta cells secret itAlpha cells secret it
GlycogenPromotes synthesisBreaks down it
RelationInhibits glucagon formationDoes not control insulin
FunctionGive signals to blood cellsAttach with liver cells

What is Insulin?

Beta cells present in the pancreas secret a hormone called Insulin. It is important as it controls the sugar level in the body and also stores glucose. And ultimately is responsible for a strong metabolism. In the absence of this, the body will not be able to store glucose which further results in the absence of vital fats in the body.

Functions or roles of insulin are:

  1. The activity of enzymes: it modifies the reactions and activities of enzymes in the body.
  2. Building muscles: it helps build the muscles in the body in case of some sickness or injury.
  3. Synthesis of lipids: it synthesis lipids by taking them into fat cells, which are then converted into triglycerides
  4. Managing breakdown of proteins: it manages the breakdown of the protein happens because of changes in fat cells.
  5. Amino acids and potassium uptakes: it takes them into the cells, which are not possible in the absence of insulin.
  6. Excretion of sodium: it also manages the fluid and exertion of sodium in the urine passed out of the body.
  7. Enhancing memory: it enhances the memory power and learning capacity of humans.

In the absence of insulin, the blood sugar level will increase, and the glucose will not be distributed and remain in the bloodstream resulting in hyperglycemia.

What is Glucagon?

Alpha cell present in the pancreas secretes a hormone known as Glucagon, which is important for increasing and maintaining the sugar level in the body. It has the following role and functions in the body:

  1. It regulated the utilization of glucose.
  2. Stimulates liver.
  3. Activate gluconeogenesis
  4. Responsible for breaking down stored fats.

It gets activated when the sugar level in the blood is low by giving the signal to the liver. Its level is high in the case of carbohydrates and low in the case of proteins. Therefore the level of glucagon mainly depends upon the type of meal a person eats.

People suffering from diabetes have a high level of glucagon which (high sugar level in the blood), which can be due to less secretion of insulin in the body that will either inhibits the glucagon secretion or reduces the blood sugar level. In case of an increase in glucagon level, the following symptoms can be noticed:

  1. Diabetes (mild and high both)
  2. A person may lose excess weight (Without diet or exercise)
  3. Necrolytic migratory erythema problem

We all know our body needs a proper level of sugar. High and low both do not have any good impact on the body, and therefore, glucagon makes sure that the level does not reduce to a level that creates any problem.

Main Differences Insulin and Glucagon

  1. Both Insulin and Glucagon have different relations or functions with the sugar level, while insulin is responsible for the decrease in the sugar level of the body. Therefore, it is released when the sugar level is high, while glucagon is responsible for the increase of the glucose level and is released by the level is relatively low.
  2. They both are secreted through different cells of the body; beta cells are responsible for the secretion of insulin, whereas Alpha cells are responsible for the secretion of the Glucagon in the body.
  3. They both are related to the glycogen in the body, but not in the same manner. While insulin promotes the making or synthesis of the glycogen in the body, glucagon helps in breaking it down.
  4. They both are related to each other, as insulin inhibits the formation of glucagon so that the sugar level in the body should not be increased, while glucagon does not have any such control over insulin formation.
  5. The function of Insulin is to give signals to the blood cells in the body, for example, liver cells and muscle cells, while Glucagon is responsible for attaching itself with liver cells.

Conclusion

Despite all the above-mentioned differences, it has several similarities too such as, normalize the human blood glucose level. Islet cells found in Pancreas are responsible for their secretion. They are pancreatic endocrine hormones. But all the similarities do not change their different effect on the body. And it is very important to maintain the balance of them in the body as both of them are very important for proper functioning and development of the body. In case of any imbalance, it will directly affect the glucose level of the body, which can lead to any severe disease or even sometimes can cause immediate death.

References

  1. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/physrev.00063.2017
  2. https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article-abstract/16/2/117/2548489
  3. https://europepmc.org/article/med/3301317
  4. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/physrev.00034.2006
  5. https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM197108192850806
  6. https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/47/2/159.short
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