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Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2012 Dec 6;3:158. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2012.00158. eCollection 2012.

Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor overexpression in cancer and its impact on clinical applications.

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Division of Cell Biology and Experimental Research, Institute of Pathology, University of Berne Berne, Switzerland.


Peptide hormones of the glucagon-like peptide (GLP) family play an increasing clinical role, such as GLP-1 in diabetes therapy. Moreover, GLP receptors are overexpressed in various human tumor types and therefore represent molecular targets for important clinical applications. In particular, virtually all benign insulinomas highly overexpress GLP-1 receptors (GLP-1R). Targeting GLP-1R with the stable GLP-1 analogs (111)In-DOTA/DPTA-exendin-4 offers a new approach to successfully localize these small tumors. This non-invasive technique has the potential to replace the invasive localization of insulinomas by selective arterial stimulation and venous sampling. Malignant insulinomas, in contrast to their benign counterparts, express GLP-1R in only one-third of the cases, while they more often express the somatostatin type 2 receptors. Importantly, one of the two receptors appears to be always expressed in malignant insulinomas. The GLP-1R overexpression in selected cancers is worth to be kept in mind with regard to the increasing use of GLP-1 analogs for diabetes therapy. While the functional role of GLP-1R in neoplasia is not known yet, it may be safe to monitor patients undergoing GLP-1 therapy carefully.


111In-DOTA/DPTA-exendin-4; glucagon-like peptide-1; glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor; insulinoma

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