Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 Receptor Agonists for Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes Spectr. 2017 Aug;30(3):202-210. doi: 10.2337/ds16-0026.


The incretin system has become an important target in the treatment of type 2 diabetes in recent years, and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is of particular interest for its glucose-lowering effects. The physiological response to oral ingestion of nutrients, involving the incretin system, is reduced in some patients with type 2 diabetes but may be augmented by administration of GLP-1 receptor agonists. The GLP-1 receptor agonists currently approved in the United States for the treatment of type 2 diabetes include exenatide (administered twice daily), liraglutide and lixisenatide (administered once daily), and the once-weekly agents exenatide extended-release, albiglutide, and dulaglutide. These agents have been shown to reduce A1C (by ∼0.8-1.6%), body weight (by ∼1-3 kg), blood pressure, and lipids. GLP-1 receptor agonists are associated with a low risk of hypoglycemia, and the most common adverse effects are gastrointestinal. Proper patient selection and education can assist in achieving positive treatment outcomes.