Glucagon-like peptide 1 and its derivatives in the treatment of diabetes

Regul Pept. 2005 Jun 15;128(2):135-48. doi: 10.1016/j.regpep.2004.07.014.


Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) was discovered as an insulinotropic gut hormone, suggesting a physiological role as an incretin hormone, i.e., being responsible, in part, for the higher insulin secretory response after oral as compared to intravenous glucose administration. This difference, the incretin effect, is partially lost in patients with Type 2 diabetes. The actions of GLP-1 include (a) a stimulation of insulin secretion in a glucose-dependent manner, (b) a suppression of glucagon, (c) a reduction in appetite and food intake, (d) a deceleration of gastric emptying, (e) a stimulation of beta-cell neogenesis, growth and differentiation in animal and tissue culture experiments, and (f) an in vitro inhibition of beta-cell apoptosis induced by different toxins. Intravenous GLP-1 can normalize and subcutaneous GLP-1 can significantly lower plasma glucose in the majority of patients with Type 2 diabetes. GLP-1 itself, however, is inactivated rapidly in vivo and thus does not appear to be useful as a therapeutic agent in the long-term treatment of Type 2 diabetes. Other agents acting on GLP-1 receptors have been found (like exendin-4) or developed as GLP-1 derivatives (like liraglutide or GLP-1/CJC-1131). Clinical trials with exenatide (two injections per day) and liraglutide (one injection per day) have shown reductions in glucose concentrations and HbA1c by more than 1%, associated with moderate weight loss (2-3 kg), but also some nausea and, rarely, vomiting. It is hoped that this new class of drugs interacting with the GLP-1 or other incretin receptors, the so-called "incretin mimetics", will broaden our armamentarium of antidiabetic medications in the nearest future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Glucagon / adverse effects
  • Glucagon / genetics
  • Glucagon / therapeutic use*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemistry
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Fragments / adverse effects
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • Peptide Fragments / therapeutic use*
  • Protein Precursors / adverse effects
  • Protein Precursors / genetics
  • Protein Precursors / therapeutic use*
  • Receptors, Glucagon / agonists


  • GLP1R protein, human
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Protein Precursors
  • Receptors, Glucagon
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Glucagon