GLP-1 receptor localization in monkey and human tissue: novel distribution revealed with extensively validated monoclonal antibody

Endocrinology. 2014 Apr;155(4):1280-90. doi: 10.1210/en.2013-1934. Epub 2014 Jan 27.


Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) analogs are increasingly being used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It is clear that these drugs lower blood glucose through an increase in insulin secretion and a lowering of glucagon secretion; in addition, they lower body weight and systolic blood pressure and increase heart rate. Using a new monoclonal antibody for immunohistochemistry, we detected GLP-1 receptor (GLP-1R) in important target organs in humans and monkeys. In the pancreas, GLP-1R was predominantly localized in β-cells with a markedly weaker expression in acinar cells. Pancreatic ductal epithelial cells did not express GLP-1R. In the kidney and lung, GLP-1R was exclusively expressed in smooth muscle cells in the walls of arteries and arterioles. In the heart, GLP-1R was localized in myocytes of the sinoatrial node. In the gastrointestinal tract, the highest GLP-1R expression was seen in the Brunner's gland in the duodenum, with lower level expression in parietal cells and smooth muscle cells in the muscularis externa in the stomach and in myenteric plexus neurons throughout the gut. No GLP-1R was seen in primate liver and thyroid. GLP-1R expression seen with immunohistochemistry was confirmed by functional expression using in situ ligand binding with (125)I-GLP-1. In conclusion, these results give important new insight into the molecular mode of action of GLP-1 analogs by identifying the exact cellular localization of GLP-1R.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / chemistry*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Weight
  • Cell Line
  • Cricetinae
  • Duodenum / metabolism
  • Exenatide
  • Glucagon / metabolism
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / analogs & derivatives
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / chemistry
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Haplorhini
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Ligands
  • Liraglutide
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Glucagon / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transfection
  • Venoms / chemistry


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • GLP1R protein, human
  • Glp1r protein, mouse
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Insulin
  • Ligands
  • Peptides
  • Receptors, Glucagon
  • Venoms
  • Liraglutide
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Glucagon
  • Exenatide