A Physiologic and Pharmacological Basis for Implementation of Incretin Hormones in the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Document Type


Publication Date



Progressive deterioration of β-cell function is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM). Together with increasing insulin resistance in peripheral tissues (in both the liver and the skeletal muscle), the inability of pancreatic insulin secretion to manage fasting and postprandial glucose levels results in hyperglycemia. Currently available oral antidiabetes agents improve glycemic parameters, but no single drug addresses the numerous pathophysiologic defects known to contribute to hyperglycemia in patients with type 2 DM. Dysregulation in the incretin system is another component of the pathophysiologic processes that lead to DM. Agents used to correct defects in the incretin system, such as glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists and dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors, offer the potential to restore glucose-dependent insulin secretion and improve β-cell function. Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists also promote weight loss and provide beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk factors. A new approach that promotes the selection of pharmacotherapy for the treatment of patients with DM, with the goal of slowing or reversing the natural history of the disease, may be in order. Clinicians can select agents to address specific pathophysiologic defects to improve glycemia, with the hope of preventing the development of complications.

Publication Title

Mayo Clinic Proceedings




12 Supplement

First Page


Last Page


PubMed ID



This article was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 85, Issue 12, Supplement, December 2010, Pages S5-S14.

The published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.4065/mcp.2010.0467

Copyright © 2010 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

This document is currently not available here.