Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the commonest chronic liver disease and is more
prevalent in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Incretin-based antidiabetic agents (glucagonlike
peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors) are used in the
treatment of T2DM but it is unclear whether they may also play a role in the management of NAFLD. We
systematically reviewed the PubMed and Scopus database up to October 2014 and also hand-searched the references of the
retrieved articles for studies evaluating the effects of these agents on NAFLD. In animal studies, both GLP-1 receptor agonists
and DPP-4 inhibitors reduced transaminase activity and steatosis but their effects on liver inflammation were inconsistent
and fibrosis was not assessed. In clinical studies, both agents consistently reduced transaminase activity and steatosis as
assessed non-invasively. There are very limited data on the effects of incretin-based treatments on liver histology. In conclusion,
GLP-1 receptor agonists and DPP-4 inhibitors appear to hold promise in patients with NAFLD but larger controlled
studies with histological and clinical endpoints are needed to evaluate their effects in this population.
Keywords: Glucagon-like peptide-1 analogues, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, steatosis,
type 2 diabetes mellitus.
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