Exogenous glucagon-like peptide 1(GLP-1) bioactivity is preserved in type 2 diabetic patients, resulting the peptide administration in a near-normalization of plasma glucose mainly through its insulinotropic effect. GLP-1 also reduces meal-related insulin requirement in type 1 diabetic patients, suggesting an impairment of the entero-insular axis in both diabetic conditions. To investigate this metabolic dysfunction, we evaluated endogenous GLP-1 concentrations, both at fasting and in response to nutrient ingestion, in 16 type 1 diabetic patients (age = 40.5 +/- 14yr, HbA1C = 7.8 +/- 1.5%), 14 type 2 diabetics (age = 56.5 +/- 13yr, HbA1C = 8.1 +/- 1.8%), and 10 matched controls. In postabsorptive state, a mixed breakfast (230 KCal) was administered to all subjects and blood samples were collected for plasma glucose, insulin, C-peptide and GLP-1 determination during the following 3 hours. In normal subjects, the test meal induced a significant increase of GLP-1 (30', 60': p < 0.01), returning the peptide values towards basal concentrations. In type 2 diabetic patients, fasting plasma GLP-1 was similar to controls (102.1 +/- 1.9 vs. 97.3 +/- 4.01 pg/ml), but nutrient ingestion failed to increase plasma peptide levels, which even decreased during the test (p < 0.01). Similarly, no increase in postprandial GLP-1 occurred in type 1 diabetics, in spite of maintained basal peptide secretion (106.5 +/- 1.5 pg/ml). With respect to controls, the test meal induced in both diabetic groups a significant increase in plasma glucagon levels at 60' (p < 0.01). In conclusion, either in condition of insulin resistance or insulin deficiency chronic hyperglycemia, which is a common feature of both metabolic disorders, could induce a progressive desensitization of intestinal L-cells with consequent peptide failure response to specific stimulation.