Incretin-based therapies in type 2 diabetes mellitus

Chee W. Chia, Josephine M. Egan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Context: Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide are incretins secreted from enteroendocrine cells postprandially in part to regulate glucose homeostasis. Dysregulation of these hormones is evident in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Two new drugs, exenatide (GLP-1 mimetic) and sitagliptin [dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP) 4 inhibitor], have been approved by regulatory agencies for treating T2DM. Liraglutide (GLP-1 mimetic) and vildagliptin (DPP 4 inhibitor) are expected to arrive on the market soon. Evidence Acquisition: The background of incretin-based therapy and selected clinical trials of these four drugs are reviewed. A MEDLINE search was conducted for published articles using the key words incretin, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, GLP-1, exendin-4, exenatide, DPP 4, liraglutide, sitagliptin, and vildagliptin. Evidence Synthesis: Exenatide and liraglutide are injection based. Three-year follow-up data on exenatide showed a sustained weight loss and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) reduction of 1%. Nausea and vomiting are common. Results from phase 3 studies are pending on liraglutide. Sitagliptin and vildagliptin are orally active. In 24-wk studies, sitagliptin reduces HbA1c by 0.6-0.8% as monotherapy, 1.8% as initial combination therapy with metformin, and 0.7% as add-on therapy to metformin. Vildagliptin monotherapy lowered HbA1c by 1.0-1.4% after 24 wk. Their major side effects are urinary tract and nasopharyngeal infections and headaches. Exenatide and liraglutide cause weight loss, whereas sitagliptin and vildagliptin do not. Conclusions: The availability of GLP-1 mimetics and DPP 4 inhibitors has increased our armamentarium for treating T2DM. Unresolved issues such as the effects of GLP-1 mimetics and DPP 4 inhibitors on β-cell mass, the mechanism by which GLP-1 mimetics lowers glucagon levels, and exactly how DPP 4 inhibitors lead to a decline in plasma glucose levels without an increase in insulin secretion, need further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3703-3716
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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