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Diabetes. 2004 Feb;53(2):410-7.

Reduction in glucagon receptor expression by an antisense oligonucleotide ameliorates diabetic syndrome in db/db mice.

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Endocrine Therapeutic and Metabolic Disorders, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, Raritan, New Jersey, USA.


Excess glucagon levels contribute to the hyperglycemia associated with type 2 diabetes. Reducing glucagon receptor expression may thus ameliorate the consequences of hyperglucagonemia and improve blood glucose control in diabetic patients. This study describes the antidiabetic effects of a specific glucagon receptor antisense oligonucleotide (GR-ASO) in db/db mice. The ability of GR-ASOs to inhibit glucagon receptor mRNA expression was demonstrated in primary mouse hepatocytes by quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Intraperitoneal administration of GR-ASO at a dosage of 25 mg/kg twice a week in db/db mice for 3 weeks resulted in 1) decreased glucagon receptor mRNA expression in liver; 2) decreased glucagon-stimulated cAMP production in hepatocytes isolated from GR-ASO-treated db/db mice; 3) significantly reduced blood levels of glucose, triglyceride, and free fatty acids; 4) improved glucose tolerance; and 5) a diminished hyperglycemic response to glucagon challenge. Neither lean nor db/db mice treated with GR-ASO exhibited hypoglycemia. Suppression of GR expression was also associated with increased ( approximately 10-fold) levels of plasma glucagon. No changes were observed in pancreatic islet cytoarchitecture, islet size, or alpha-cell number. However, alpha-cell glucagon levels were increased significantly. Our studies support the concept that antagonism of glucagon receptors could be an effective approach for controlling blood glucose in diabetes.

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