Hyperglucagonemia in pediatric adiposity associates with cardiometabolic risk factors but not hyperglycemia

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CONTEXT: In adults, hyperglucagonemia is associated with type 2 diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, and obesity. The role of glucagon in pediatric overweight/obesity remains unclear.

OBJECTIVE: We examined whether fasting concentrations of glucagon are elevated in youth with overweight/obesity and whether this associates with cardiometabolic risk profiles.

METHODS: Analyses were based on the cross-sectional HOLBAEK Study, including 6-19-year-old children and adolescents with overweight/obesity from an obesity clinic group (n = 2154) and a population-based group with normal weight (n = 1858). Fasting concentrations of plasma glucagon and cardiometabolic risk outcomes were assessed, multiple linear and logistic regressions models were performed.

RESULTS: The obesity clinic group had higher glucagon concentrations than the population-based group (P < 0.001). Glucagon positively associated with BMI standard deviation score (SDS), waist, body fat %, liver fat %, alanine transaminase (ALT), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, insulin, C-peptide, LDL-C, triglycerides, SDS of diastolic and systolic blood pressure, and was inversely associated with fasting glucose. The inverse relationship between glucagon and glucose was attenuated in individuals with high BMI SDS and high fasting insulin. Glucagon was associated with a higher prevalence of insulin resistance, increased ALT, dyslipidemia, and hypertension, but not with hyperglycemia. Glucagon was positively associated with fasting total glucagon-like peptide-1.

CONCLUSIONS: Compared to normal weight peers, children and adolescents with overweight/obesity had elevated concentrations of fasting glucagon, which corresponded to worsened cardiometabolic risk outcomes, except for hyperglycemia. This suggests hyperglucagonemia in youth may precede impairments in glucose regulation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1569–1576
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Endocrine Society.

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