Metabolic Effects of Insulin and Glucagon

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Chapter: Biochemistry : Metabolic Effects of Insulin and Glucagon

Four major tissues play a dominant role in fuel metabolism: liver, adipose, muscle, and brain.


Integration of Metabolism

Metabolic Effects of Insulin and Glucagon

OVERVIEW

Four major tissues play a dominant role in fuel metabolism: liver, adipose, muscle, and brain. These tissues contain unique sets of enzymes, such that each tissue is specialized for the storage, use, or generation of specific fuels. These tissues do not function in isolation, but rather form part of a network in which one tissue may provide substrates to another or process compounds produced by other organs. Communication between tissues is mediated by the nervous system, by the availability of circulating substrates, and by variation in the levels of plasma hormones (Figure 23.1). The integration of energy metabolism is controlled primarily by the actions of two peptide hormones, insulin and glucagon (secreted in response to changing substrate levels in the blood), with the catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine (secreted in response to neural signals) playing a supporting role. Changes in the circulating levels of these hormones allow the body to store energy when food is abundant or to make stored energy available such as during “survival crises” (for example, famine, severe injury, and “fight-or-flight” situations). This chapter describes the structure, secretion, and metabolic effects of the two hormones that most profoundly affect energy metabolism.


Figure 23.1 Mechanisms of communication between four major tissues.

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