Liraglutide, a Long-Acting Human Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 Analog, Improves Glucose Homeostasis in Marginal Mass Islet Transplantation in Mice

Endocrinology. 2008 Sep;149(9):4322-8. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-0501. Epub 2008 May 29.


The current scarcity of high-quality deceased pancreas donors prevents widespread application of islet transplantation for treatment of labile type 1 diabetes mellitus. Opportunities for the improvement of current techniques include optimization of islet isolation and purification, use of culture with pharmacological insulinotropic agents, strategies to reduce graft rejection and inflammation, and the search for alternative insulin producing tissue. Here, we report our findings on the efficacy of the long-acting human glucagon-like peptide 1 analog, liraglutide, in a mouse model of marginal mass islet transplantation. Liraglutide was administered (200 microg/kg sc twice daily) after a marginal mass syngeneic islet transplant in streptozotocin-induced diabetic BALB/c mice. Time-to-normoglycemia was significantly shorter in liraglutide-treated animals (median 1 vs. 7 d; P = 0.0003), even in recipients receiving sirolimus (median 1 vs. 72.5 d; P < 0.0001). Liraglutide-treated animals also demonstrated improved glucose tolerance as assessed by an ip glucose tolerance test. Liraglutide discontinuation at postoperative d 90 resulted in diminished glucose tolerance during the ip glucose tolerance test, whereas a late-start liraglutide therapy 90 d after transplant resulted in no improvement. These findings suggest that liraglutide therapy mediates early and late insulinotropic effects. In accord with this hypothesis, insulin/terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine 5-triphosphate nick end labeling fluorescence microscopy showed reduced transplanted beta-cell apoptosis in liraglutide-treated recipients 48 h after transplant. In addition, liraglutide resulted in improved glucose-dependent insulin secretion. Overall, our data show that liraglutide has a beneficial impact on the engraftment and function of syngeneic islet transplants in mice, when administered continuously starting on the day of transplant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / therapy
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / pharmacology
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / therapeutic use
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Intolerance / therapy
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control
  • Homeostasis / drug effects*
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation* / methods
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation* / rehabilitation
  • Liraglutide
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Satiety Response / drug effects
  • Streptozocin


  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Streptozocin
  • Liraglutide
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Glucose