Therapy in the Early Stage: Incretins
- 1Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases Outpatient Unit, Emergency County Clinical Hospital, Târgu Mureş, Romania
- 2Diabetes Center, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel
- ↵Corresponding author: Simona Cernea, .
The complex pathological mechanisms responsible for development of type 2 diabetes are not fully addressed by conventional drugs, which are also associated with inconvenient side effects such as weight gain or hypoglycemia. Two types of incretin-based therapies are now in use: incretin mimetics (glucagon-like peptide-1 [GLP-1] receptor agonists that bind specific receptors and mimic the action of natural GLP-1) and incretin enhancers (inhibitors of the enzyme that degrade the incretin hormones and thus prolong their activity). Both offer important advantages over previous agents. In addition to the proven glucose-lowering efficacy, they promote weight loss (or are weight neutral) by slowing gastric emptying and inducing satiety, inhibit glucagon secretion with maintenance of counterregulatory mechanisms, and exhibit cardiovascular benefits, while having a low risk profile. Importantly, short-term studies have shown that incretins/incretin-based therapies protect β-cells (by enhancing cell proliferation and differentiation and inhibiting apoptosis) and stimulate their function (by recruiting β-cells to the secretory process and increasing insulin biosynthesis/secretion). These therapies have the opportunity to interfere with the disease progression if used as an early intervention, when enough β-cell mass/function can still be preserved or restored.
- © 2011 by the American Diabetes Association.
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