Aims/hypothesis: Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is a gut hormone used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. There is emerging evidence that GLP-1 has anti-inflammatory activity in humans, with murine studies suggesting an effect on macrophage polarisation. We hypothesised that GLP-1 analogue therapy in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus would affect the inflammatory macrophage molecule soluble CD163 (sCD163) and adipocytokine profile.
Methods: We studied ten obese type 2 diabetes mellitus patients starting GLP-1 analogue therapy at a hospital-based diabetes service. We investigated levels of sCD163, TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, adiponectin and leptin by ELISA, before and after 8 weeks of GLP-1 analogue therapy.
Results: GLP-1 analogue therapy reduced levels of the inflammatory macrophage activation molecule sCD163 (220 ng/ml vs 171 ng/ml, p < 0.001). This occurred independent of changes in body weight, fructosamine and HbA1c. GLP-1 analogue therapy was associated with a decrease in levels of the inflammatory cytokines TNF-α (264 vs 149 pg/ml, p < 0.05), IL-1β (2,919 vs 748 pg/ml, p < 0.05) and IL-6 (1,379 vs 461 pg/ml p < 0.05) and an increase in levels of the anti-inflammatory adipokine adiponectin (4,480 vs 6,290 pg/ml, p < 0.002).
Conclusions/interpretation: In individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus, GLP-1 analogue therapy reduces the frequency of inflammatory macrophages. This effect is not dependent on the glycaemic or body weight effects of GLP-1.