Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) exerts many actions that improve glycemic control. GLP-1 stimulates glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and protects β cells, while its extrapancreatic effects include cardioprotection, reduction of hepatic glucose production, and regulation of satiety. Although an appealing antidiabetic drug candidate, the rapid degradation of GLP-1 by dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP-4) means that its therapeutic use is unfeasible, and this prompted the development of two main GLP-1 therapies: long-acting GLP-1 analogs and DPP-4 inhibitors. In this review, we focus on the pancreatic effects exerted by current GLP-1 derivatives used to treat diabetes. Based on the results from in vitro and in vivo studies in humans and animal models, we describe the specific actions of GLP-1 analogs on the synthesis, processing, and secretion of insulin, islet morphology, and β cell proliferation and apoptosis.
Keywords: GLP-1; diabetes; glycaemic control; insulin; β cells.
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