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Endocrinology. 2017 Jul 1;158(7):2124-2133. doi: 10.1210/en.2016-1826.

Central Nervous System GLP-1 Receptors Regulate Islet Hormone Secretion and Glucose Homeostasis in Male Rats.

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Department of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45219.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neursocience, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45219.


The glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) system plays an important role in blood glucose regulation, in great part through coordinate control of insulin and glucagon secretion. These effects are generally attributed to GLP-1 produced in peripheral sites, principally the intestine. GLP-1 is also produced in hindbrain neurons that signal through GLP-1 receptors (GLP-1rs) expressed in brain regions involved in metabolic regulation. GLP-1 in the central nervous system (CNS) induces satiety, visceral illness, and stress responses. However, recent evidence suggests CNS GLP-1 is also involved in glucose regulation. To test the hypothesis that central GLP-1 regulates islet hormone secretion, conscious rats were given intracerebroventricular (ICV) GLP-1, GLP-1r antagonist exendin-[9-39] (Ex-9), or saline during fasting or hyperglycemia from intravenous glucose. Administration of CNS GLP-1 increased fasting glucose, glucagon, corticosterone, and epinephrine and blunted insulin secretion in response to hyperglycemia. Paradoxically, GLP-1r blockade with ICV Ex-9 also reduced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, and administration of ICV Ex-9 to freely feeding rats caused mild glucose intolerance. Thus, direct administration of CNS GLP-1 affected islet hormone secretion counter to what is seen with peripherally administered GLP-1, an effect likely due to stimulation of sympathetic nervous system activity. In contrast, blockade of brain GLP-1r supports a role for CNS GLP-1 on glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and glucose control after a meal. These findings suggest a model in which activation of CNS GLP-1r by endogenous peptide promotes glucose tolerance, an effect that can be overridden by stress responses stimulated by exogenous GLP-1.

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