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Emma Rose McGlone Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, London, UK

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Stephen R Bloom Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, Imperial College London, London, UK

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Tricia M-M Tan Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, Imperial College London, London, UK

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Metabolic-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD) is closely associated with obesity. MASLD affects over 1 billion adults globally but there are few treatment options available. Glucagon is a key metabolic regulator, and its actions include the reduction of liver fat through direct and indirect means. Chronic glucagon signalling deficiency is associated with hyperaminoacidaemia, hyperglucagonaemia and increased circulating levels of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF-21). Reduction in glucagon activity decreases hepatic amino acid and triglyceride catabolism; metabolic effects include improved glucose tolerance, increased plasma cholesterol and increased liver fat. Conversely, glucagon infusion in healthy volunteers leads to increased hepatic glucose output, decreased levels of plasma amino acids and increased urea production, decreased plasma cholesterol and increased energy expenditure. Patients with MASLD share many hormonal and metabolic characteristics with models of glucagon signalling deficiency, suggesting that they could be resistant to glucagon. Although there are few studies of the effects of glucagon infusion in patients with obesity and/or MASLD, there is some evidence that the expected effect of glucagon on amino acid catabolism may be attenuated. Taken together, this evidence supports the notion that glucagon resistance exists in patients with MASLD and may contribute to the pathogenesis of MASLD. Further studies are warranted to investigate the direct effects of glucagon on metabolism in patients with MASLD.

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