Intranasal glucagon: a promising approach for treatment of severe hypoglycemia

J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2015 Jan;9(1):38-43. doi: 10.1177/1932296814557518. Epub 2014 Nov 10.


Prevention of diabetic complications is mainly obtained through optimal control of blood glucose levels. With hypoglycemic drugs like beta-cell stimulating drugs and especially insulin, the limit to treatment is represented by hypoglycemia, a life-threatening occurrence that is dangerous itself and can induce fear of other episodes. Glucagon, injected subcutaneously (SC) or intramuscularly (IM), is the treatment of choice for severe hypoglycemia outside of the hospital setting. However, due to practical aspects such as preparation of solutions for administration and injection by untrained persons, there are obstacles to its routine use. This review focuses on the current status of alternative routes of administration of peptide hormones, and in particular the intranasal (IN) route of glucagon, as a promising approach for the treatment of severe hypoglycemia.

Keywords: diabetes; glucagon; hypoglycemia; insulin; intranasal; peptide hormones.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Glucagon / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / drug therapy*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Glucagon