Neprilysin Inhibition Increases Glucagon Levels in Humans and Mice With Potential Effects on Amino Acid Metabolism

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Context: Inhibitors of the protease neprilysin (NEP) are used for treating heart failure, but are also linked to improvements in metabolism. NEP may cleave proglucagon-derived peptides, including the glucose and amino acid (AA)-regulating hormone glucagon. Studies investigating NEP inhibition on glucagon metabolism are warranted.

Objective: This work aims to investigate whether NEP inhibition increases glucagon levels.

Methods: Plasma concentrations of glucagon and AAs were measured in eight healthy men during a mixed meal with and without a single dose of the NEP inhibitor/angiotensin II type 1 receptor antagonist, sacubitril/valsartan (194 mg/206 mg). Long-term effects of sacubitril/valsartan (8 weeks) were investigated in individuals with obesity (n = 7). Mass spectrometry was used to investigate NEP-induced glucagon degradation, and the derived glucagon fragments were tested pharmacologically in cells transfected with the glucagon receptor (GCGR). Genetic deletion or pharmacological inhibition of NEP with or without concomitant GCGR antagonism was tested in mice to evaluate effects on AA metabolism.

Results: In healthy men, a single dose of sacubitril/valsartan significantly increased postprandial concentrations of glucagon by 228%, concomitantly lowering concentrations of AAs including glucagonotropic AAs. Eight-week sacubitril/valsartan treatment increased fasting glucagon concentrations in individuals with obesity. NEP cleaved glucagon into 5 inactive fragments (in vitro). Pharmacological NEP inhibition protected both exogenous and endogenous glucagon in mice after an AA challenge, while NEP-deficient mice showed elevated fasting and AA-stimulated plasma concentrations of glucagon and urea compared to controls.

Conclusion: NEP cleaves glucagon, and inhibitors of NEP result in hyperglucagonemia and may increase postprandial AA catabolism without affecting glycemia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbvab084
JournalEndocrine Research
Issue number9
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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