Reanalysis of study of pancreatic effects of incretin therapy: methodological deficiencies

Diabetes Obes Metab. 2014 Jul;16(7):661-6. doi: 10.1111/dom.12257. Epub 2014 Jan 29.


A recently published study by Butler et al. concluded that incretin treatment had adverse effects on the human type 2 diabetic pancreas including 'a marked expansion of the exocrine and endocrine pancreatic compartments, the former being accompanied by increased proliferation and dysplasia and the latter by α-cell hyperplasia with the potential for evolution into neuroendocrine tumours'. Incretin therapy has become widely used for type 2 diabetes, so these conclusions have instigated major concerns with regard to patient safety. We reassessed both the clinical case information and virtual microscopy images of the same 34 cases that were used in the Butler study as well as Network for Pancreatic Organ Donation (nPOD) cases that were not included. Whereas we would like to stress that it is important to investigate in depth any indication that incretin treatment may lead to inflammation or dysplasia in the pancreas, we find that the data presented in the Butler paper have serious methodological deficiencies that preclude any meaningful conclusions.

Keywords: incretin therapy; islets; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incretins / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Pancreas / drug effects*


  • Incretins