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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Aug;295(2):E269-77. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.90222.2008. Epub 2008 May 20.

Exenatide can reduce glucose independent of islet hormones or gastric emptying.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, 1333 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA.


Exenatide is a long-acting glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) mimetic used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. There is increasing evidence that GLP-1 can influence glycemia not only via pancreatic (insulinotropic and glucagon suppression) and gastric-emptying effects, but also via an independent mechanism mediated by portal vein receptors. The aim of our study was to investigate whether exenatide has an islet- and gastric-independent glycemia-reducing effect, similar to GLP-1. First, we administered mixed meals, with or without exenatide (20 microg sc) to dogs. Second, to determine whether exenatide-induced reduction in glycemia is independent of slower gastric emptying, in the same animals we infused glucose intraportally (to simulate meal test glucose appearance) with exenatide, exenatide + the intraportal GLP-1 receptor antagonist exendin-(9-39), or saline. Exenatide markedly decreased postprandial glucose: net 0- to 135-min area under the curve = +526 +/- 315 and -536 +/- 197 mg.dl(-1).min(-1) with saline and exenatide, respectively (P < 0.05). Importantly, the decrease in plasma glucose occurred without a corresponding increase in postprandial insulin but was accompanied by delayed gastric emptying and lower glucagon. Significantly lower glycemia was induced by intraportal glucose infusion with exenatide than with saline (92 +/- 1 vs. 97 +/- 1 mg/dl, P < 0.001) in the absence of hyperinsulinemia or glucagon suppression. The exenatide-induced lower glycemia was partly reversed by intraportal exendin-(9-39): 95 +/- 3 and 92 +/- 3 mg/dl with exenatide + antagonist and exenatide, respectively (P < 0.01). Our results suggest that, similar to GLP-1, exenatide lowers glycemia via a novel mechanism independent of islet hormones and slowing of gastric emptying. We hypothesize that receptors in the portal vein, via a neural mechanism, increase glucose clearance independent of islet hormones.

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