Benefits and Harms of Once-Weekly Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonist Treatments: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-analysis

Ann Intern Med. 2016 Jan 19;164(2):102-13. doi: 10.7326/M15-1432. Epub 2015 Dec 8.


Background: Once-weekly glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs) are new drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Purpose: To summarize evidence for the cardiometabolic efficacy and adverse effects of once-weekly GLP-1RAs in adults with type 2 diabetes.

Data sources: Electronic databases (PubMed, Web of Science, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, European Medicines Agency, and congress abstracts from inception through 26 September 2015.

Study selection: Randomized, controlled trials (≥ 24 weeks of follow-up) studying albiglutide, dulaglutide, once-weekly exenatide, semaglutide, and taspoglutide and reporting a cardiometabolic (primary outcome, hemoglobin A1c [HbA1c]) or safety outcome.

Data extraction: Extraction was done in duplicate, and risk of bias was assessed. No language restriction was applied.

Data synthesis: 34 trials (21,126 participants) were included. Compared with placebo, all once-weekly GLP-1RAs reduced HbA1c and fasting plasma glucose; taspoglutide, 20 mg, once-weekly exenatide, and dulaglutide, 1.5 mg, reduced body weight. Among once-weekly GLP-1RAs, the greatest differences were found between dulaglutide, 1.5 mg, and taspoglutide, 10 mg, for HbA1c (-0.4% [95% CI, -0.7% to -0.2%]), once-weekly exenatide and albiglutide for fasting plasma glucose (-0.7 mmol/L [CI, -1.1 to -0.2 mmol/L]; -12.6 mg/dL [CI, -19.8 to -3.6 mg/dL]), and taspoglutide, 20 mg, and dulaglutide, 0.75 mg, for body weight (-1.5 kg [CI, -2.2 to -0.8]). Clinically marginal or no differences were found for blood pressure, blood lipid levels, and C-reactive protein levels. Once-weekly exenatide increased heart rate compared with albiglutide and dulaglutide (1.4 to 3.2 beats/min). Among once-weekly GLP-1RAs, the risk for hypoglycemia was similar, whereas taspoglutide, 20 mg, had the greatest risk for nausea (odds ratios, 1.9 to 5.9).

Limitation: Data were unavailable for semaglutide, definitions of outcomes were heterogeneous, the last-observation-carried-forward imputation method was used in 73% of trials, and publication bias is possible.

Conclusion: Compared with other once-weekly GLP-1RAs, dulaglutide, 1.5 mg; once-weekly exenatide; and taspoglutide, 20 mg, showed a greater reduction of HbA1c, fasting plasma glucose, and body weight. Taspoglutide, 20 mg, had the highest risk for nausea; risk for hypoglycemia among once-weekly GLP-1RAs was similar.

Primary funding source: Sanofi Aventis (grant to the University of Leicester).

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / agonists*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / chemically induced
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Nausea / chemically induced
  • Weight Loss


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents