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Are glucagon and glycogen the same thing?

Medically reviewed by Melisa Puckey, BPharm. Last updated on June 16, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Are glucagon and glycogen the same thing?

No, glucagon and glycogen are NOT the same thing.

What is the difference between glucose, glycogen, glucagon and GlucoGen?

There is often confusion between glucagon, glycogen and GlucaGen, and how they relate to glucose levels in the body.

Glucose is the sugar in our bloodstream that our body uses for energy.

Glycogen is a stored form of energy. After eating, when there is too much glucose to be used, the extra glucose is converted to glycogen to be stored. When blood glucose levels drop the glycogen gets converted back to glucose and is released into the bloodstream to be used.

Glucagon signals the body to convert the stored glycogen back into glucose. Glucagon is naturally produced in the body when blood sugars become low but is also manufactured as a medicine to treat very low blood sugar levels in diabetes.

GlucaGen is a brand name of the medicine glucagon injection, which is used to treat severe hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar) in diabetics, as it increases blood glucose levels.

So the difference between glycogen and glucagon is that

  • glycogen is the stored form of energy that our body uses, and
  • glucagon is what induces the body to convert glycogen back into glucose to be used for energy.

Summary:

Glucagon (produced naturally in the body or given as injection eg GlucoGen) signals the body to convert the stored energy glycogen into glucose, which is released into the bloodstream.

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