Glucagon increase after chronic AT1 blockade is more likely related to an indirect leptin-dependent than to a pancreatic α-cell-dependent mechanism

Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2017 May;390(5):505-518. doi: 10.1007/s00210-017-1346-7. Epub 2017 Jan 31.


AT1 blockers (ARB) prevent diabetes by improving pancreatic β cell function. Less is known about whether α cells are affected although they express angiotensin II (AngII) receptors. We aimed to investigate glucagon release upon AngII stimulation. We determined glucagon release after AngII stimulation (0.01-100 μM) in α cells (InR1G9) and isolated murine islets. We determined plasma glucagon in rats that were chronically treated with AngII (9 μg/h) or the ARBs telmisartan (8 mg/kg/day) and candesartan (16 mg/kg/day) and correlated glucagon with additional hormones (e.g. leptin). Glucagon was only released from InR1G9 cells and islets at the highest AngII concentrations (>10 μM). This was not inhibited by losartan or PD123319. Ang(1-7) and AngIV were also almost ineffective. AngII did not alter glucagon secretion from islets. Plasma glucagon increased when obese Zucker rats were treated with AngII or candesartan and also when Sprague Dawley rats were treated with telmisartan in parallel to high-calorie feeding. Plasma glucagon and leptin negatively correlated in ARB-treated rats. The glucagon release from InR1G9 cells or islets after AngII, AngIV or Ang(1-7) is unspecific since it only occurs, if at all, after the highest concentrations and cannot be blocked by specific inhibitors. Thus, the AngII-dependent increase in plasma glucagon seems to be mediated by indirect mechanisms. The negative correlations between plasma leptin and glucagon confirm findings showing that leptin suppresses glucagon release, leading us to suppose that the increase in plasma glucagon is related to the decrease in leptin after ARB treatment.

Keywords: AT1 receptor; Angiotensin II; Glucagon; Leptin; Obesity; α Cells.

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin II / metabolism*
  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Benzimidazoles / pharmacology*
  • Benzoates / pharmacology*
  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Cell Line
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glucagon / blood
  • Glucagon / metabolism*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Leptin / blood
  • Leptin / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rats, Zucker
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1 / drug effects
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1 / genetics
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1 / metabolism
  • Telmisartan
  • Tetrazoles / pharmacology*
  • Time Factors
  • Up-Regulation


  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers
  • Benzimidazoles
  • Benzoates
  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Leptin
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1
  • Tetrazoles
  • Angiotensin II
  • Glucagon
  • candesartan
  • Telmisartan