GLP-1 for type 2 diabetes

Exp Cell Res. 2011 May 15;317(9):1239-45. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2011.01.010. Epub 2011 Jan 13.


Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1)-based therapy of type 2 diabetes is executed either by GLP-1 receptor agonists, which stimulate the GLP-1 receptors, or by dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, which prevent the inactivation of endogenous GLP-1 thereby increasing the concentration of endogenous active GLP-1. GLP-1 activates pancreatic receptors resulting in improved glycemia through glucose-dependent stimulation of insulin secretion and inhibition of glucagon secretion. There is also a potential beta cell preservation effect, as judged from rodent studies. GLP-1 receptors are additionally expressed in extrapancreatic tissue, having potential for the treatment to reduce body weight and to potentially have beneficial cardio- and endothelioprotective effects. Clinical trials in subjects with type 2 diabetes have shown that in periods of 12 weeks or more, these treatments reduce HbA(1c) by ≈ 0.8-1.1% from baseline levels of 7.7-8.5%, and they are efficient both as monotherapy and in combination therapy with metformin, sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones or insulin. Furthermore, GLP-1 receptor agonists reduce body weight, whereas DPP-4 inhibitors are body weight neutral. The treatment is safe with very low risk for adverse events, including hypoglycaemia. GLP-1 based therapy is thus a novel and now well established therapy of type 2 diabetes, with a particular value in combination with metformin in patients who are inadequately controlled by metformin alone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4 / metabolism
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / analogs & derivatives
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / metabolism*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Humans
  • Protease Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Receptors, Glucagon / agonists


  • GLP1R protein, human
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Protease Inhibitors
  • Receptors, Glucagon
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • DPP4 protein, human
  • Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4