Treatment of Diabetes and Obesity by Rationally Designed Peptide Agonists Functioning at Multiple Metabolic Receptors

Endocr Dev. 2017:32:165-182. doi: 10.1159/000475737. Epub 2017 Aug 15.


Obesity and its comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes constitute major worldwide health threats, and the identification of an effective medical intervention has emerged as a global priority. The limited effectiveness of historical, anti-obesity treatments is commonly attributed to the complexity of the disease and the redundancy of metabolic regulatory mechanisms that sustain body weight. At the forefront of obesity research is the development of combinational drug therapies that simultaneously target multiple regulatory pathways, which promote dysfunctional metabolism. Recently, molecularly crafted unimolecular "multi-agonism" of balanced activity at 3 key receptors involved in metabolism and specifically the glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1 receptor, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) receptor and glucagon receptor was reported as superior to conventional monoagonist therapy. These mixed peptide agonists are designed to pharmacologically integrate the insulinotropic and anorexigenic effects of GLP-1, the thermogenic and lipolytic activities of glucagon, and the insulinotropic and insulin sensitizing properties of GIP. The molecular mechanism of these purposefully promiscuous ligands is not completely understood, however, recent studies in pancreatic beta cells point to the prospect of a complex signaling network that can magnify the signaling of multi-agonist ligands. The activation of this signalosome might explain the additional therapeutic benefit inherent to simultaneous cellular activation through multiple metabolic receptors.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Germ-Free Life / physiology
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neuroendocrine Cells / physiology*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Peptide Hormones / agonists*
  • Peptide Hormones / physiology
  • Prebiotics / administration & dosage
  • Receptor Cross-Talk
  • Receptors, Gastrointestinal Hormone / drug effects


  • Gastrointestinal Hormones
  • Peptide Hormones
  • Prebiotics
  • Receptors, Gastrointestinal Hormone