21/02/2021 / Endocrinology & Diabetes

Insulin and Glucagon Hormones : How do they Works?

Insulin and glucagon hormones are responsible for controlling the sugar and glucose levels in the human body

Insulin and Glucagon Hormones :  How do they Works?
Mazia Ahmed Mazia Ahmed

Mazia Ahmed

MSc Nutrition Science, Ph.D. Scholar


Quick Overview

Insulin and glucagon hormones are responsible for controlling the sugar and glucose levels in the human body. These two hormones work with each other to maintain an ideal level of blood sugar. Glucagon and insulin are the two important hormones secreted by the pancreas. The two hormones complement each other and maintain a state of Homeostasis within the body. However, these two hormones have their identity as well, and the functioning of one can affect the overall state of the body.

Glucagon and Insulin are needed to monitor and regulate the concentrations of blood glucose. A group of pancreatic cells called islets of Langerhans secrets these two hormones. The alpha cells of the islets of Langerhans helps in increasing the blood glucose level by secreting glucagon hormone while the beta cells release insulin which helps in lowering down the blood glucose level.

  • Insulin Hormone

Insulin plays a vital role in allowing the cells to have access to glucose as the cells of the human body are dependent on glucose for energy. Insulin receptors present on the cell surface allow the entry of glucose within the cell. When the insulin shoots up, the liver receives the signal of blood glucose being high, and thus, the glucose is absorbed by the liver. This absorbed glucose is later stored as glycogen in the liver. The process is reversed when the level of blood sugar is low.

Insulin has numerous benefits concerning the human body. It helps in post-injury recovery as it promotes the spread of amino acids in muscles. It also enhances the DNA as well as protein synthesis. In cases when the Insulin is not properly functional, a condition of Hyperglycemia (increased glucose in the blood) develops as the body fails to store glucose in the liver and muscles. Along with this, the fat molecules present in the body also break down and transforms into Keto Acids.

  • Glucagon Hormone

Glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen. When the blood sugar level drops down, the glucagon hormone converts the glycogen into glucose and raises its level in the bloodstream. Now, when Glucose is spread across the whole body, the insulin ensures that the glucose must be absorbed.

Thus, insulin and glucagon are complementary to each other and play a significant role in each other's functioning. In simpler words, insulin hormone allows the cells to use glucose and thereby decreases the overall blood sugar of the human body while glucagon deals with the conversion of glycogen into glucose and helps in enhancing blood sugar levels.

These two essential hormones are necessary for the proper functioning of the human body as unmanaged blood glucose can cause several diseases. Diabetes is the most common disease that can be caused when the blood glucose level is high. Diabetes is classified into two forms: Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes. To cure Type-1 diabetes, there is a need for external insulin as the hormone is not secreted naturally inside the human body. Type-2 diabetes is usually insulin-proof, and thus the patient faces Insulin deficiency. 

Insulin and Glucagon Hormones 2

The functioning of the Human Body

The human body runs on three basic things, which are also called human fuels. They comprise fats, proteins, and glucose (carbohydrate). Among these, Glucose is considered one of the rapid sources of energy as it is easily accessible when compared with others. When the human body is exerted or when a person has to perform more physical work, the body needs a greater amount of Glucose. 

Now, when the blood has a sufficient amount of glucose, the pancreas plays a key role in keeping the blood glucose on an ideal level. The pancreatic hormones directly affecting the overall blood glucose in the human body are Glucagon, Amylin, Somatostatin, and Insulin. Therefore, both insulin, as well as glucagon, has their identity in such a way that Insulin helps in lowering the blood glucose, while glucagon helps in increasing the same.

When we differentiate these two hormones, we can say that insulin production requires the pancreas, and it helps in converting blood glucose/sugar into energy. It also allows the liver to use this stored energy later on. The Glucagon, on the other hand, is known for handling cases when the blood glucose/sugar is low. In such cases, the liver releases the Glucose that has been stored and also promotes the liver to produce Glucose in a greater quantity.

Being a natural process, the secretion of insulin and glucagon in the human body is necessary for maintaining Blood Glucose levels. The secretion of these hormones promotes human welfare by tackling potential diseases and making the human body immune from diseases.

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