Incretin-based therapies

J Diabetes. 2012 Mar;4(1):55-67. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-0407.2011.00143.x.


Incretin-based therapies have established a foothold in the diabetes armamentarium through the introduction of oral dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors and the injectable class, the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists. In 2009, the American Diabetes Association and European Association for the Study of Diabetes authored a revised consensus algorithm for the initiation and adjustment of therapy in Type 2 diabetes (T2D). The revised algorithm accounts for the entry of incretin-based therapies into common clinical practice, especially where control of body weight and hypoglycemia are concerns. The gut-borne incretin hormones have powerful effects on glucose homeostasis, particularly in the postprandial period, when approximately two-thirds of the β-cell response to a given meal is due to the incretin effect. There is also evidence that the incretin effect is attenuated in patients with T2D, whereby the β-cell becomes less responsive to incretin signals. The foundation of incretin-based therapies is to target this previously unrecognized feature of diabetes pathophysiology, resulting in sustained improvements in glycemic control and improved body weight control. In addition, emerging evidence suggests that incretin-based therapies may have a positive impact on inflammation, cardiovascular and hepatic health, sleep, and the central nervous system. In the present article, we discuss the attributes of current and near-future incretin-based therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / pharmacology
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Humans
  • Incretins / adverse effects
  • Incretins / therapeutic use*
  • Receptors, Glucagon / agonists


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors
  • GLP1R protein, human
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Incretins
  • Receptors, Glucagon
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1