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Michael A Nauck and Juris J Meier

GLP-1, a peptide hormone secreted from the gut, stimulating insulin and suppressing glucagon secretion was identified as a parent compound for novel treatments of diabetes, but was degraded (dipeptidyl peptidase-4) and eliminated (mainly by kidneys) too fast (half-life 1–2 min) to be useful as a therapeutic agent. GLP-1 receptor agonist has been used to treat patients with type 2 diabetes since 2007, when exenatide (twice daily) was approved in 2007. Compounds with longer duration of action (once daily, once weekly) and with increasingly better efficacy with respect to glycaemic control and body weight reduction have been developed, and in a recent ADA/EASD consensus statement, were recommended as the first injectable diabetes therapy after failure of oral glucose-lowering medications. Most GLP-1 receptor agonists (lixisenatide q.d., liraglutide q.d., exenatide q.w., dulaglutide q.w., albiglutide q.w., semaglutide q.w., all for s.c. injection, and the first oral preparation, oral semaglutide) have been examined in cardiovascular outcomes studies. Beyond proving their safety in vulnerable patients, most of whom had pre-existing heart disease, liraglutide, semaglutide, albiglutide, and dulaglutide reduced the time to first major adverse cardiovascular events (non-fatal myocardial infarction and stroke, cardiovascular death). Liraglutide, in addition, reduced cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. It is the purpose of the present review to describe clinically important differences, regarding pharmacokinetic behaviour, glucose-lowering potency, effectiveness of reducing body weight and controlling other cardiovascular risk factors, and of the influence of GLP-1 receptor agonist treatment on cardiovascular outcomes in patients either presenting with or without pre-existing cardiovascular disease (atherosclerotic, ischemic or congestive heart failure).

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Luc F Van Gaal, Stephen W Gutkin and Michael A Nauck

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is associated with progressive decreases in pancreatic β-cell function. Most patients thus require increasingly intensive treatment, including oral combination therapies followed by insulin. Fear of hypoglycemia is a potential barrier to treatment adherence and glycemic control, while weight gain can exacerbate hyperglycemia or insulin resistance. Administration of insulin can roughly mimic physiologic insulin secretion but does not address underlying pathophysiology. Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is an incretin hormone released by the gut in response to meal intake that helps to maintain glucose homeostasis through coordinated effects on islet α- and β-cells, inhibiting glucagon output, and stimulating insulin secretion in a glucose-dependent manner. Biological effects of GLP-1 include slowing gastric emptying and decreasing appetite. Incretin mimetics (GLP-1 receptor agonists with more suitable pharmacokinetic properties versus GLP-1) significantly lower hemoglobin A1c, body weight, and postprandial glucose excursions in humans and significantly improve β-cell function in vivo (animal data). These novel incretin-based therapies offer the potential to reduce body weight or prevent weight gain, although the durability of these effects and their potential long-term benefits need to be studied further. This article reviews recent clinical trials comparing therapy with the incretin mimetic exenatide to insulin in patients with oral treatment failure, identifies factors consistent with the use of each treatment, and delineates areas for future research.

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Thomas G K Breuer, Bjoern A Menge, Matthias Banasch, Waldemar Uhl, Andrea Tannapfel, Wolfgang E Schmidt, Michael A Nauck and Juris J Meier

Introduction

Hyperproinsulinaemia has been reported in patients with type 2 diabetes. It is unclear whether this is due to an intrinsic defect in β-cell function or secondary to the increased demand on the β-cells. We investigated whether hyperproinsulinaemia is also present in patients with secondary diabetes, and whether proinsulin levels are associated with impaired β-cell area or function.

Patients and methods

Thirty-three patients with and without diabetes secondary to pancreatic diseases were studied prior to pancreatic surgery. Intact and total proinsulin levels were compared with the pancreatic β-cell area and measures of insulin secretion and action.

Results

Fasting concentrations of total and intact proinsulin were similar in patients with normal, impaired (including two cases of impaired fasting glucose) and diabetic glucose tolerance (P=0.58 and P=0.98 respectively). There were no differences in the total proinsulin/insulin or intact proinsulin/insulin ratio between the groups (P=0.23 and P=0.71 respectively). There was a weak inverse association between the total proinsulin/insulin ratio and pancreatic β-cell area (r 2=0.14, P=0.032), whereas the intact proinsulin/insulin ratio and the intact and total proinsulin levels were unrelated to β-cell area. However, a strong inverse relationship between homeostasis model assessment index of β-cell function and both the total and the intact proinsulin/insulin ratio was found (r 2=0.55 and r 2=0.48 respectively). The association of insulin resistance (IR) with intact proinsulin was much weaker than the correlation with fasting insulin.

Conclusions

Hyperproinsulinaemia is associated with defects in insulin secretion rather than a reduction in β-cell area. The weak association between intact proinsulin and IR argues against the usefulness of this parameter in clinical practice.