GLP-1 Receptor Expression Within the Human Heart

Endocrinology. 2018 Apr 1;159(4):1570-1584. doi: 10.1210/en.2018-00004.


Glucagonlike peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonists, which are used to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity, reduce the rates of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular death. GLP-1R has been localized to the human sinoatrial node; however, its expression in ventricular tissue remains uncertain. Here we studied GLP-1R expression in the human heart using GLP-1R-directed antisera, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR), reverse transcription PCR to detect full-length messenger RNA (mRNA) transcripts, and in situ hybridization (ISH). GLP1R mRNA transcripts, encompassing the entire open reading frame, were detected in all four cardiac chambers from 15 hearts at levels approximating those detected in human pancreas. In contrast, cardiac GLP2R expression was relatively lower, and cardiac GCGR expression was sporadic and not detected in the left ventricle. GLP1R mRNA transcripts were not detected in RNA from human cardiac fibroblasts, coronary artery endothelial, or vascular smooth muscle cells. Human Brunner glands and pancreatic islets exhibited GLP-1R immunopositivity and abundant expression of GLP1R mRNA transcripts by ISH. GLP1R transcripts were also detected by ISH in human cardiac sinoatrial node tissue. However, definitive cellular localization of GLP1R mRNA transcripts or immunoreactive GLP-1R protein within human cardiomyocytes or cardiac blood vessels remained elusive. Moreover, validated GLP-1R antisera lacked sufficient sensitivity to detect expression of the endogenous islet or cardiac GLP-1R by Western blotting. Hence, although human cardiac ventricles express the GLP1R, the identity of one or more ventricular cell type(s) that express a translated GLP1R protein requires further clarification with highly sensitive methods of detection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cricetinae
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / genetics
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / metabolism*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-2 Receptor / genetics
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-2 Receptor / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism


  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-2 Receptor

Grant support