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Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2013 May 4;12:73. doi: 10.1186/1475-2840-12-73.

Effects of 24-week treatment with acarbose on glucagon-like peptide 1 in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients: a preliminary report.

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Key Laboratory of Hormone and Development, Ministry of Health, Metabolic Disease Hospital & Tianjin Institute of Endocrinology, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin 300070, China.



Treatment with the alpha-glucosidase inhibitor (AGI) acarbose is associated with a significant reduction the risk of cardiovascular events. However, the underlying mechanisms of this effect are unclear. AGIs were recently suggested to participate in stimulating glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) secretion. We therefore examined the effects of a 24-week treatment of acarbose on endogenous GLP-1, nitric oxide (NO) levels, nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity, and carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) in newly diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D).


Blood was drawn from 24 subjects (14 male, 10 female, age: 50.7 ± 7.36 years, BMI: 26.64 ± 3.38 kg/m2, GHbA1c: 7.00 ± 0.74%) with drug-naïve T2D at 0 and 120 min following a standard mixed meal for the measurements of active GLP-1, NO and NOS. The CIMT was measured prior to and following 24 weeks of acarbose monotherapy (mean dose: 268 mg daily).


Following 24 weeks of acarbose treatment, both fasting and postprandial plasma GLP-1 levels were increased. In patients with increased postprandial GLP-1 levels, serum NO levels and NOS activities were also significantly increased and were positively related to GLP-1 levels. Although the CIMT was not significantly altered following treatment with acarbose, a decreased CIMT was negatively correlated with increased GLP-1 levels.


Twenty-four weeks of acarbose monotherapy in newly diagnosed patients with T2D is associated with significantly increased levels of both fasting and postprandial GLP-1 as well as significantly increased NO levels and NOS activity for those patients in whom postprandial GLP-1 levels were increased. Therefore, the benefits of acarbose on cardiovascular risk may be related to its stimulation of GLP-1 secretion.

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