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Glucagonoma in Animals


Robert J. Kemppainen

, DVM, PhD, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2023

Glucagonomas are a type of pancreatic endocrine tumor that arises from the alpha cells of the pancreas.

Etiology and Pathogenesis of Glucagonoma in Animals

Glucagonomas are neoplasms of alpha pancreatic islet cells. Glucagonomas secrete glucagon as well as other hormones (eg, insulin, gastrin, and pancreatic polypeptide).

Epidemiology of Glucagonoma in Animals

Glucagonomas have been reported in a small number of dogs. There are no reported cases in cats.

No sex or breed predisposition has been documented.

Clinical Features of Glucagonoma in Animals

Clinical signs of glucagonoma may include polyuria, polydipsia, lethargy, weight loss, diarrhea, and anorexia.

Animals affected by superficial necrolytic dermatitis show cutaneous lesions affecting mucocutaneous junctions, footpads, elbows, or the abdomen. Secondary bacterial infections may occur.

Diagnosis of Glucagonoma in Animals

A presumptive diagnosis of glucagonoma can be made based on signalment, history, clinical signs, and physical examination findings. Diagnosis is confirmed on the basis of histopathologic findings. Biopsy samples stain positively for glucagon immunoreactivity.

Treatment and Prognosis of Glucagonoma in Animals

Surgical resection of glucagonoma is the treatment of choice. Medical treatment with octreotide (a somatostatin analog that inhibits the conversion of preproglucagon to glucagon) may be tried.

Overall prognosis is poor. Metastasis to liver and lymph nodes is common.

Key Points

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