Effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 on glucagon secretion in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

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BACKGROUND & AIMS: We evaluated the glucagon-suppressive effect of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and its potential effects on endogenous glucose production and whole body lipolysis in non-diabetic patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

METHODS: On two separate days 10 non-diabetic patients with liver biopsy-verified NAFLD (NAFLD activity score 2.5±1.0) and 10 matched controls underwent a 2-hour intravenous infusions of GLP-1 (0.8 pmol × kg(-1) × min(-1)) and placebo. Since GLP-1-mediated glucagon suppression has been shown to be glucose-dependent, plasma glucose was clamped at fasting level during the first hour, and then raised and clamped at 'postprandial level' (fasting plasma glucose level plus 3 mmol/L) for the remaining hour. We evaluated relative plasma levels of glucagon, endogenous glucose production and whole body lipolysis rates with stable isotopes and respiratory quotient using indirect calorimety.

RESULTS: Compared to controls, patients with NAFLD were insulin resistant (homeostasis model assessment (HOMAIR): 3.8±2.2 vs. 1.6±1.5, p=0.003) and had fasting hyperglucagonaemia (7.5±5.3 vs. 5.8±1.5 mmol/L, p=0.045). Similar relative glucagon suppression was seen in both groups during GLP-1 infusion at fasting (-97±75 vs. -93±41 pmol/L × min(-1)p=0.566) and 'postprandial' plasma glucose levels (-108±101 vs. -97±53 pmol/L × min(-1), p=0.196). Increased insulinotropic effects of GLP-1 was observed in NAFLD patients. No effect of GLP-1 on endogenous glucose production was observed in any of the groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with NAFLD exhibited fasting hyperglucagonaemia, but intact GLP-1-mediated glucagon suppression independently of plasma glucose concentrations. Preserved glucagonostatic effect and increased insulinotropic effects of GLP-1 in NAFLD may be important to maintain normoglycaemia in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)908–915
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

ID: 150704289