GLP-1 is a peptide hormone from the intestinal mucosa. It is secreted in response to meal ingestion and normally functions in the so-called ileal brake i. e. inhibition of upper gastrointestinal motility and secretion when nutrients are present in the distal small intestine. It also induces satiety and promotes tissue deposition of ingested glucose by stimulating insulin secretion. Thus, it is an essential incretin hormone. In addition, the hormone has been demonstrated to promote insulin biosynthesis and insulin gene expression and to have trophic effects on the beta cells. The trophic effects include proliferation of existing beta cells, maturation of new cells from duct progenitor cells and inhibition of apoptosis. Furthermore glucagon secretion is inhibited. Because of these effects, the hormone effectively improves metabolism in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, continuous administration of the peptide is necessary because of an exceptionally rapid rate of degradation catalyzed the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase IV. With inhibitors of this enzyme, it is possible to protect the endogenous hormone and thereby elevate both fasting and postprandial levels of the active hormone. This leads to enhanced insulin secretion and glucose turnover. But will DPP-IV inhibition enhance all effects of the endogenous peptide? The mode of action of GLP-1 is complex involving also interactions with sensory neurons and the central nervous system, where a DPP-IV mediated degradation does not seem to occur. Therefore, it is as yet uncertain wether DDP-IV inhibitors will affect gastrointestinal motility, appetite and food intake. Even the effects of GLP-1 effects on the pancreatic islets may be partly neurally mediated and therefore uninfluenced by DPP-IV inhibition.
Keywords: Antigens, CD26; Appetite; Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2; Glucagon; Glucagon-Like Peptide 1; Humans; Insulin; Peptide Fragments; Protease Inhibitors; Protein Precursors