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G Ital Cardiol (Rome). 2011 Dec;12(12 Suppl 2):5-9. doi: 10.1714/985.10684.

[Protective effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 on beta-cells: preclinical and clinical data].

[Article in Italian]

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  • 1Dipartimento di Medicina Interna e Scienze dell'Invecchiamento, Universit√° egli Studi "G. d'Annunzio", Chieti. consoli@unich.it


Dipartimento di Medicina Interna e Scienze dell'Invecchiamento, Università degli Studi "G. d'Annunzio", Chieti Continuing b-cell mass and function loss represents the key mechanism for the pathogenesis and the progression of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Drugs capable of arresting b-cell loss and eventually able to bring b-cell function close to be back to normal would then be a formidable help in type 2 diabetes mellitus treatment. The glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists exenatide and liraglutide can stimulate in vitro neogenesis and prevent apoptosis in b-cell-like cell lines. Consistently, treatment with GLP-1 receptor agonists ameliorates glucose metabolism, preserves b-cell mass and improves b-cell function in several animal models of diabetes. For instance, in the db/db mice, liraglutide protects the b-cell from oxidative stress and endoplasmic reticulum stress-related damage. Data in humans, in vivo, are less definitive and often based on scarcely reliable indexes of b-cell function. However, short-term treatment (14 weeks) with liraglutide increased b-cell maximal response capacity in a dose-response fashion. A longer (1 year) exenatide treatment also was able to increase b-cell maximal response capacity, but the effect was no longer there after a 4-week washout period. However, a marginal, although significant as compared to glargine treatment, improvement in another b-cell function index (disposition index) was observed after a 4-week washout period following 3-year exenatide treatment. Finally, although no clinical trials with a long enough follow-up period are presently available, durable glucose control has been obtained during 2 years of liraglutide treatment in monotherapy. Since the durability of good control is strictly dependent upon a lack of further b-cell function deterioration, these clinical data may foster hope that GLP-1 receptor antagonist treatment might help preserving b-cell function also in individuals affected by type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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