Incretin-based therapies for type 2 diabetes mellitus

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2009 May;5(5):262-9. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2009.48.


Incretin-based drugs, such as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists and dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors, are now routinely used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. These agents regulate glucose metabolism through multiple mechanisms, their use is associated with low rates of hypoglycemia, and they either do not affect body weight (dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors), or promote weight loss (glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists). The success of exenatide and sitagliptin, the first therapies in their respective drug classes to be based on incretins, has fostered the development of multiple new agents that are currently in late stages of clinical development or awaiting approval. This Review highlights our current understanding of the mechanisms of action of incretin-based drugs, with an emphasis on the emerging clinical profile of new agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Incretins / administration & dosage
  • Incretins / adverse effects
  • Incretins / therapeutic use*
  • Receptors, Glucagon / agonists


  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors
  • Incretins
  • Receptors, Glucagon