Minireview: Glucagon-like peptides regulate cell proliferation and apoptosis in the pancreas, gut, and central nervous system

Endocrinology. 2004 Jun;145(6):2653-9. doi: 10.1210/en.2004-0015. Epub 2004 Mar 24.


Gut peptides exert diverse effects regulating satiety, gastrointestinal motility and acid secretion, epithelial integrity, and both nutrient absorption and disposal. These actions are initiated by activation of specific G protein-coupled receptors and may be mediated by direct or indirect effects on target cells. More recent evidence demonstrates that gut peptides, exemplified by glucagon-like peptides-1 and 2 (GLP-1 and GLP-2), directly regulate signaling pathways coupled to cell proliferation and apoptosis. GLP-1 receptor activation enhances beta-cell proliferation and promotes islet neogenesis via activation of pdx-1 expression. The proliferative effects of GLP-1 appear to involve multiple intracellular pathways, including stimulation of Akt, activation of protein kinase Czeta, and transactivation of the epidermal growth factor receptor through the c-src kinase. GLP-1 receptor activation also promotes cell survival in beta-cells and neurons via increased levels of cAMP leading to cAMP response element binding protein activation, enhanced insulin receptor substrate-2 activity and, ultimately, activation of Akt. These actions of GLP-1 are reflected by expansion of beta-cell mass and enhanced resistance to beta-cell injury in experimental models of diabetes in vivo. GLP-2 also promotes intestinal cell proliferation and confers resistance to cellular injury in a variety of cell types. Administration of GLP-2 to animals with experimental intestinal injury promotes regeneration of the gastrointestinal epithelial mucosa and confers resistance to apoptosis in an indirect manner via yet-to-be identified GLP-2 receptor-dependent regulators of mucosal growth and cell survival. These proliferative and antiapoptotic actions of GLP-1 and GLP-2 may contribute to protective and regenerative actions of these peptides in human subjects with diabetes and intestinal disorders, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Glucagon / physiology*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 2
  • Intestines / cytology*
  • Intestines / physiology
  • Pancreas / cytology*
  • Pancreas / physiology
  • Peptide Fragments / physiology*
  • Peptides / physiology*
  • Protein Precursors / physiology*


  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 2
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Peptides
  • Protein Precursors
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Glucagon