[Level 3 Anatomy Exam] What's the difference between Insulin and Glucagon?

L3 Anatomy Exam: What’s the difference between Insulin and Glucagon?

This blog will explain the difference between Insulin and Glucagon helping you prepare for your Level 3 Anatomy Exam, and pass with confidence.

You’ll discover:

  • The difference between Insulin and Glucagon?
  • How our Endocrine system works to maintain homeostasis
  • 7 Minute Video tutorial explaining hormones
  • Mock Questions and answers to test your knowledge

Insulin and Glucagon are BOTH hormones, they are BOTH produced in the Pancreas and they BOTH help us to create homeostasis in the body. However, there are significant differences between these two hormones and their action.

This blog will explain why they are different and the role of each in maintaining homeostasis. But first, let’s clarify some key terminology:

What is the Endocrine System:

The endocrine system is a chemical messenger system comprising feedback loops of the hormones released by the internal glands of an organism directly into the circulatory system, regulating distant target organs.

Endocrine Organs include:

The pituitary gland, Thyroid Gland, Parathyroid gland, Adrenal Glands, Pancreas, Ovaries and Testes.

You will need to know about the endocrine system as part of your Level 3 Anatomy exam, and it makes up one of the 8 modules inside our Revision Mastery Bootcamp to help you learn all glands and hormone actions with ease.

What are Hormones?

Hormones are chemical messengers released from the Endocrine Glands. They are secreted directly into the blood, which carries them to organs, muscles, and tissues of the body to take action and maintain homeostasis.

Hormones Include:

Growth hormone, Thyroxine, Catecholamines, Oestrogen, Testosterone, Insulin and Glucagon 

What is Homeostasis:

Homeostasis is the ability to maintain a relatively stable internal state regardless of changes in our environment or what we do. Regulation of the internal environment allows survival.

Homeostasis is maintained by the Endocrine System and the Nervous System which sends messages to and from the endocrine gland to increase/ decrease the number of hormones required to keep the body regulated.

What is Insulin?

It is a hormone, secreted from our Pancreas when our blood sugar levels are high or rising. It operates like a key, unlocking the cells, to allow glucose to go in to the cells (muscles, liver and fat cells).

Without Insulin our blood sugar levels would just keep on rising. High blood glucose is called Hyperglycaemia. This causes A LOT of physiological problems and eventually coma or death

What is Glucagon?

It is a hormone, secreted from our Pancreas when our blood sugar levels are LOW or falling. It allows stored Glycogen to exit storage in the cells (muscles, liver and fat cells) and be released into the blood as Glucose.

Without Glucagon our blood sugar levels would just keep on falling. Low blood glucose is called Hypoglycaemia.

What is Glucose?

When we consume any carbohydrate, it is broken down into glucose by the digestive system.

As it travels through your bloodstream to your cells, it’s called blood glucose or blood sugar. If it is stored in the cells for later the same molecule becomes Glycogen.

What is Glycogen?

Glycogen is a stored form of glucose. It is a large multi-branched polymer of glucose.

It is mainly stored in the liver and the muscles and provides the body with a readily available source of energy if blood glucose levels decrease.

Glycogen may be released by the liver for a number of reasons, including stressful situations, exercise, waking from sleep, hypoglycaemia, and to aid digestion.

What is the difference between Insulin and Glucagon?

Essentially Insulin and Glucagon are both hormones that are secreted from the Pancreas. However Insulin reduces blood glucose levels, and Glucagon increases blood glucose levels.

Watch this 7-minute video tutorial to understand the difference between Insulin and Glucagon, and their different roles in maintaining homeostasis within the body.

Level 3 Anatomy Exam Revision: Insulin and Glucagon…

Test your knowledge with three L3 Anatomy Mock Questions

Look at the Mock Questions below and jot down your answer on a scrap paper or as a note on your phone.

Then scroll down to reveal the answers.

Q1. Which hormone increases blood glucose levels during hypoglycaemia?
A. Insulin
B. Glucagon
C. Glycogen
D. Testosterone

Q2. Which of the following is not an Endocrine Gland?
A. Pituitary Gland
B. Testes
C. Liver
D. Pancreas

Q3. What is Carbohydrate stored as in the Liver and Muscles?
A. Glycose
B. Glucose
C. Glucagon
D. Glycogen


Q1: = B
Q2: = C
Q3: = D

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Hayley “Insulin and Glucagon” Bergman

Parallel Coaching

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