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Mol Endocrinol. 2003 Feb;17(2):161-71.

Glucagon-like peptides: regulators of cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis.

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Department of Medicine, Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network, Banting and Best Diabetes Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada M5G 2C4.


Peptide hormones are secreted from endocrine cells and neurons and exert their actions through activation of G protein-coupled receptors to regulate a diverse number of physiological systems including control of energy homeostasis, gastrointestinal motility, neuroendocrine circuits, and hormone secretion. The glucagon-like peptides, GLP-1 and GLP-2 are prototype peptide hormones released from gut endocrine cells in response to nutrient ingestion that regulate not only energy absorption and disposal, but also cell proliferation and survival. GLP-1 expands islet mass by stimulating pancreatic beta-cell proliferation and induction of islet neogenesis. GLP-1 also promotes cell differentiation, from exocrine cells or immature islet progenitors, toward a more differentiated beta-cell phenotype. GLP-2 stimulates cell proliferation in the gastrointestinal mucosa, leading to expansion of the normal mucosal epithelium, or attenuation of intestinal injury in experimental models of intestinal disease. Both GLP-1 and GLP-2 exert antiapoptotic actions in vivo, resulting in preservation of beta-cell mass and gut epithelium, respectively. Furthermore, GLP-1 and GLP-2 promote direct resistance to apoptosis in cells expressing GLP-1 or GLP-2 receptors. Moreover, an increasing number of structurally related peptide hormones and neuropeptides exert cytoprotective effects through G protein-coupled receptor activation in diverse cell types. Hence, peptide hormones, as exemplified by GLP-1 and GLP-2, may prove to be useful adjunctive tools for enhancement of cell differentiation, tissue regeneration, and cytoprotection for the treatment of human disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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