Insulin plus incretin: A glucose-lowering strategy for type 2-diabetes

World J Diabetes. 2014 Feb 15;5(1):40-51. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v5.i1.40.


There are many advantages of combining incretin therapy [glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors] with insulin therapy as a glucose-lowering strategy in type 2 diabetes. One important advantage is the complementary mode of the mechanistic action of incretin and insulin therapy. Another advantage is the reduction in risk of hypoglycemia and weight gain when adding incretin therapy to insulin. Several clinical trials have studied the addition of GLP-1 receptor agonists [exenatide BID (twice daily), lixisenatide, albiglutide] or DPP-4 inhibitors (vildagliptin, sitagliptin, saxagliptin, alogliptin, linagliptin) to ongoing insulin therapy or adding insulin to ongoing therapy with a GLP-1 receptor agonist (liraglutide). These studies show improved glycemia in the presence of limited risk for hypoglycemia and weight gain with the combination of incretin therapy with insulin. This article reviews the background and clinical studies on this combination.

Keywords: Combination; Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors; Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists; Glucose lowering; Incretin therapy; Insulin therapy; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review