Clinical application of glucagon-like Peptide 1 receptor agonists for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus

Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2013 Dec;28(4):262-74. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2013.28.4.262.


Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is secreted from enteroendocrine L-cells in response to oral nutrient intake and elicits glucose-stimulated insulin secretion while suppressing glucagon secretion. It also slows gastric emptying, which contributes to decreased postprandial glycemic excursions. In the 1990s, chronic subcutaneous infusion of GLP-1 was found to lower blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, GLP-1's very short half-life, arising from cleavage by the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP-4) and glomerular filtration by the kidneys, presented challenges for clinical use. Hence, DPP-4 inhibitors were developed, as well as several GLP-1 analogs engineered to circumvent DPP-4-mediated breakdown and/or rapid renal elimination. Three categories of GLP-1 analogs, are being developed and/or are in clinical use: short-acting, long-acting, and prolonged-acting GLP-1 analogs. Each class has different plasma half-lives, molecular size, and homology to native GLP-1, and consequently different characteristic effects on glucose metabolism. In this article, we review current clinical data derived from each class of GLP-1 analogs, and consider the clinical effects reported for each category in recent head to head comparison studies. Given the relatively brief clinical history of these compounds, we also highlight several important efficacy and safety issues which will require further investigation.

Keywords: Diabetes mellitus, type 2; Exenatide; Exenatide long acting release; Glucagon-like peptide 1; Liraglutide.

Publication types

  • Review