Author(s): Van Gaal LF, Gutkin SW, Nauck MA
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Abstract Type 2 diabetes mellitus is associated with progressive decreases in pancreatic beta-cell function. Most patients thus require increasingly intensive treatment, including oral combination therapies followed by insulin. Fear of hypoglycemia is a potential barrier to treatment adherence and glycemic control, while weight gain can exacerbate hyperglycemia or insulin resistance. Administration of insulin can roughly mimic physiologic insulin secretion but does not address underlying pathophysiology. Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is an incretin hormone released by the gut in response to meal intake that helps to maintain glucose homeostasis through coordinated effects on islet alpha- and beta-cells, inhibiting glucagon output, and stimulating insulin secretion in a glucose-dependent manner. Biological effects of GLP-1 include slowing gastric emptying and decreasing appetite. Incretin mimetics (GLP-1 receptor agonists with more suitable pharmacokinetic properties versus GLP-1) significantly lower hemoglobin A1c, body weight, and postprandial glucose excursions in humans and significantly improve beta-cell function in vivo (animal data). These novel incretin-based therapies offer the potential to reduce body weight or prevent weight gain, although the durability of these effects and their potential long-term benefits need to be studied further. This article reviews recent clinical trials comparing therapy with the incretin mimetic exenatide to insulin in patients with oral treatment failure, identifies factors consistent with the use of each treatment, and delineates areas for future research.
This article was published in Eur J Endocrinol
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