Inability of Some Commercial Assays to Measure Suppression of Glucagon Secretion

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Glucagon levels are increasingly being included as endpoints in clinical study design and more than 400 current diabetes-related clinical trials have glucagon as an outcome measure. The reliability of immune-based technologies used to measure endogenous glucagon concentrations is, therefore, important. We studied the ability of immunoassays based on four different technologies to detect changes in levels of glucagon under conditions where glucagon levels are strongly suppressed. To our surprise, the most advanced technological methods, employing electrochemiluminescence or homogeneous time resolved fluorescence (HTRF) detection, were not capable of detecting the suppression induced by a glucose clamp (6 mmol/L) with or without atropine in five healthy male participants, whereas a radioimmunoassay and a spectrophotometry-based ELISA were. In summary, measurement of glucagon is challenging even when state-of-the-art immune-based technologies are used. Clinical researchers using glucagon as outcome measures may need to reconsider the validity of their chosen glucagon assay. The current study demonstrates that the most advanced approach is not necessarily the best when measuring a low-abundant peptide such as glucagon in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8352957
JournalJournal of Diabetes Research
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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