Metabolic effects of the incretin mimetic exenatide in the treatment of type 2 diabetes

Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2006;2(1):69-77. doi: 10.2147/vhrm.2006.2.1.69.


Interventional studies have demonstrated the impact of hyperglycemia on the development of vascular complications associated with type 2 diabetes, which underscores the importance of safely lowering glucose to as near-normal as possible. Among the current challenges to reducing the risk of vascular disease associated with diabetes is the management of body weight in a predominantly overweight patient population, and in which weight gain is likely with many current therapies. Exenatide is the first in a new class of agents termed incretin mimetics, which replicate several glucoregulatory effects of the endogenous incretin hormone, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Currently approved in the US as an injectable adjunct to metformin and/or sulfonylurea therapy, exenatide improves glycemic control through multiple mechanisms of action including: glucose-dependent enhancement of insulin secretion that potentially reduces the risk of hypoglycemia compared with insulin secretagogues; restoration of first-phase insulin secretion typically deficient in patients with type 2 diabetes; suppression of inappropriately elevated glucagon secretion to reduce postprandial hepatic output; and slowing the rate of gastric emptying to regulate glucose appearance into the circulation. Clinical trials in patients with type 2 diabetes treated with subcutaneous exenatide twice daily demonstrated sustained improvements in glycemic control, evidenced by reductions in postprandial and fasting glycemia and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA(1c)) levels. Notably, improvements in glycemic control with exenatide were coupled with progressive reductions in body weight, which represents a distinct therapeutic benefit for patients with type 2 diabetes. Acute effects of exenatide on beta-cell responsiveness along with significant reductions in body weight in patients with type 2 diabetes may have a positive impact on disease progression and potentially decrease the risk of associated long-term complications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / prevention & control
  • Exenatide
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / metabolism*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / drug effects
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Molecular Mimicry*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Peptides / adverse effects
  • Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Peptides / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Venoms / adverse effects
  • Venoms / pharmacology*
  • Venoms / therapeutic use


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Peptides
  • Venoms
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Exenatide