Author(s): Verspohl EJ
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Abstract Known treatments of type 2 diabetes mellitus have limitations such as weight gain, and hypoglycaemias. A new perspective is the use of incretin hormones and incretin enhancers. Incretins are defined as being responsible for the higher insulin release after an oral glucose load compared to an intravenous glucose load. The delicate balance of glucose homeostasis, in which incretin hormones are involved, is disturbed in type 2 diabetes mellitus. The incretin GLP-1 helps to maintain glucose homeostasis through stimulation of insulin secretion and inhibition of glucagon release in a glucose-dependent manner. This is associated with reductions in body weight, and no risk of hypoglycaemias. When classical oral agents have failed to maintain adequate glycaemic control, incretin mimetics may be of particular value for obese patients and those who have little control over meal sizes. Exenatide was marketed as a GLP-1 analogue and longer acting incretin mimetics such as liraglutide, albiglutide and others have the same pharmacological profile. In addition to incretin mimetics incretin enhancers which inhibit/delay degradation of incretins were developed: so-called DPP-4 inhibitors such as sitagliptin and vildagliptin are approved in Europe. Their differences from incretin mimetics include: oral bioavailability, less side effects with overdose, no direct CNS effects (nausea and vomiting) and no effect on weight. In rodent models of diabetes, but not yet in humans, GLP-1 receptor agonists and DPP-4 inhibitors increase islet mass and preserve beta-cell function. Incretin mimetics and enhancers expand type 2 diabetes treatment, are still not first line therapy and it is discussed if they are to be prophylactically used.
This article was published in Pharmacol Ther
and referenced in Internal Medicine: Open Access