Hyperglucagonaemia and amino acid alterations in individuals with type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Iben Rix, Marie L Johansen, Asger Lund, Malte P Suppli, Elizaveta Chabanova, Gerrit van Hall, Jens J Holst, Nicolai J Wewer Albrechtsen, Caroline Kistorp, Filip K Knop*

*Corresponding author for this work
1 Citation (Scopus)


AIMS: Hyperglucagonaemia contributes to the pathophysiology in type 2 diabetes (T2D), but the mechanisms behind the inappropriate glucagon secretion are not fully understood. Glucagon and amino acids are regulated in a feedback loop referred to as the liver-α cell axis. Individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) appear to be glucagon resistant, disrupting the liver-α cell axis resulting in hyperglucagonaemia and hyperaminoacidaemia. We investigated the associations between circulating glucagon, amino acids, and liver fat content in a cohort of individuals with T2D.

METHODS: We included 110 individuals with T2D in this cross-sectional study. Liver fat content was quantified using 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Associations between liver fat content and plasma glucagon and amino acids, respectively, were estimated in multivariate linear regression analyses.

RESULTS: Individuals with NAFLD (n = 52) had higher plasma glucagon concentrations than individuals without NAFLD (n = 58). The positive association between plasma glucagon concentrations and liver fat content was confirmed in the multivariable regression analyses. Plasma concentrations of isoleucine and glutamate were increased, and glycine and serine concentrations were decreased in individuals with NAFLD. Concentrations of other amino acids were similar between individuals with and without NAFLD, and no clear association was seen between liver fat content and amino acids in the regression analyses.

CONCLUSION: MRS-diagnosed NAFLD in T2D is associated with hyperglucagonaemia and elevated plasma concentrations of isoleucine and glutamate and low plasma concentrations of glycine and serine. Whether NAFLD and glucagon resistance per se induce these changes remains to be elucidated.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere230161
JournalEndocrine Connections
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


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