Gene therapy for diabetes: metabolic effects of helper-dependent adenoviral exendin 4 expression in a diet-induced obesity mouse model

Mol Ther. 2008 Nov;16(11):1805-12. doi: 10.1038/mt.2008.198. Epub 2008 Sep 9.


Exendin 4 (Ex4) is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP- 1R) agonist which is available as a short-acting injectable treatment for type 2 diabetes. Our aim was to characterize the long-term effects of elevated steady-state levels of Ex4 provided by in vivo gene therapy. We constructed a helper-dependent adenoviral (HDAd) vector for long-term expression of Ex4 in vivo. A high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity (DIO) mouse model was chosen to approximate the metabolic derangements seen in obese patients. Mice were treated with a single injection of HDAd-Ex4 and were monitored for 15 weeks. Both hepatic Ex4 RNA and plasma Ex4 were detectable at the end of the study. HDAd-Ex4 treatment improved glucose homeostasis without increasing insulin levels. However, there was evidence of enhanced insulin action and decreased gluconeogenic enzyme expression. HDAd-Ex4 caused decreased weight gain without detectable changes in food intake, in part, due to increases in energy expenditure (EE). HDAd-Ex4 DIO mice also had reduced hepatic fat and an improved adipokine profile. In the liver, there was decreased expression of genes that were involved in de novo fatty acid synthesis. These observations are important in considering the development of longer acting GLP-1R agonists for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Dietary Fats*
  • Eating
  • Exenatide
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Helper Viruses / genetics*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Peptides / genetics*
  • Receptors, Glucagon / agonists
  • Venoms / biosynthesis
  • Venoms / genetics*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Glp1r protein, mouse
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Peptides
  • Receptors, Glucagon
  • Venoms
  • Exenatide
  • Glucose