Comparative Effects of Proximal and Distal Small Intestinal Glucose Exposure on Glycemia, Incretin Hormone Secretion, and the Incretin Effect in Health and Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes Care. 2019 Apr;42(4):520-528. doi: 10.2337/dc18-2156. Epub 2019 Feb 14.


Objective: Cells releasing glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) are distributed predominately in the proximal and distal gut, respectively. Hence, the region of gut exposed to nutrients may influence GIP and GLP-1 secretion and impact on the incretin effect and gastrointestinal-mediated glucose disposal (GIGD). We evaluated glycemic and incretin responses to glucose administered into the proximal or distal small intestine and quantified the corresponding incretin effect and GIGD in health and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

Research design and methods: Ten healthy subjects and 10 patients with T2DM were each studied on four occasions. On two days, a transnasal catheter was positioned with infusion ports opening 13 cm and 190 cm beyond the pylorus, and 30 g glucose with 3 g 3-O-methylglucose (a marker of glucose absorption) was infused into either site and 0.9% saline into the alternate site over 60 min. Matching intravenous isoglycemic clamp studies were performed on the other two days. Blood glucose, serum 3-O-methylglucose, and plasma hormones were evaluated over 180 min.

Results: In both groups, blood glucose and serum 3-O-methylglucose concentrations were higher after proximal than distal glucose infusion (all P < 0.001). Plasma GLP-1 increased minimally after proximal, but substantially after distal, glucose infusion, whereas GIP increased promptly after both infusions, with concentrations initially greater, but less sustained, with proximal versus distal infusion (all P < 0.001). Both the incretin effect and GIGD were less with proximal than distal glucose infusion (both P ≤ 0.009).

Conclusions: The distal, as opposed to proximal, small intestine is superior in modulating postprandial glucose metabolism in both health and T2DM.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Female
  • Gastric Inhibitory Polypeptide / blood
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / blood
  • Glucose / administration & dosage*
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Incretins / metabolism*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Intestine, Small / drug effects*
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postprandial Period / drug effects


  • Blood Glucose
  • Incretins
  • Insulin
  • Gastric Inhibitory Polypeptide
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Glucose

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12615001240538