Effects of 24-week treatment with acarbose on glucagon-like peptide 1 in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients: a preliminary report

Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2013 May 4:12:73. doi: 10.1186/1475-2840-12-73.


Background: Treatment with the alpha-glucosidase inhibitor (AGI) acarbose is associated with a significant reduction the risk of cardiovascular events. However, the underlying mechanisms of this effect are unclear. AGIs were recently suggested to participate in stimulating glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) secretion. We therefore examined the effects of a 24-week treatment of acarbose on endogenous GLP-1, nitric oxide (NO) levels, nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity, and carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) in newly diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Methods: Blood was drawn from 24 subjects (14 male, 10 female, age: 50.7 ± 7.36 years, BMI: 26.64 ± 3.38 kg/m2, GHbA1c: 7.00 ± 0.74%) with drug-naïve T2D at 0 and 120 min following a standard mixed meal for the measurements of active GLP-1, NO and NOS. The CIMT was measured prior to and following 24 weeks of acarbose monotherapy (mean dose: 268 mg daily).

Results: Following 24 weeks of acarbose treatment, both fasting and postprandial plasma GLP-1 levels were increased. In patients with increased postprandial GLP-1 levels, serum NO levels and NOS activities were also significantly increased and were positively related to GLP-1 levels. Although the CIMT was not significantly altered following treatment with acarbose, a decreased CIMT was negatively correlated with increased GLP-1 levels.

Conclusions: Twenty-four weeks of acarbose monotherapy in newly diagnosed patients with T2D is associated with significantly increased levels of both fasting and postprandial GLP-1 as well as significantly increased NO levels and NOS activity for those patients in whom postprandial GLP-1 levels were increased. Therefore, the benefits of acarbose on cardiovascular risk may be related to its stimulation of GLP-1 secretion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acarbose / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / enzymology
  • Female
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / blood*
  • Glycoside Hydrolase Inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitric Oxide / blood
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Postprandial Period
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Glycoside Hydrolase Inhibitors
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Acarbose