Background: Recent findings indicate that incretin hormones and incretin-based
therapies may affect the metabolism of lipoproteins, although the corresponding mechanisms
are not clearly defined.
Objective: To summarize the available data on the mechanisms linking incretins with the
characteristics of serum lipoproteins and discuss the clinical implications of these relationships.
Methods: PubMed was searched using the terms “incretins”, “GLP-1”, “GIP” and “lipids”,
“dyslipidemia”, “triglycerides”, “apolipoprotein B48”. All articles published in the English
language until June 2016 were assessed and the relevant information is presented here.
Results: GLP-1, and therapies that increase its activity, exert a beneficial effect on lipoprotein
metabolism that is translated in a reduction in the fasting and postprandial concentration of
triglycerides and a small improvement in the concentration and function of HDLs. In addition,
a shift towards larger, less atherogenic particles usually follows the administration of GLP-1
receptor agonists. The mechanisms that underlie these changes involve a direct effect of GLP-
1 on the hepatic and intestinal production of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, the GLP-1 induced
increase in the production and function of insulin, the activation of specific areas of central
nervous system as well as the increase in the peripheral utilization of triglycerides for energy
production. On the other hand, GLP-2 increases the absorption of dietary fat and the production
of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins while the role of GIP on lipid metabolism remains indeterminate.
Conclusion: GLP-1 and incretin-based therapies favorably affect lipid metabolism. These effects
may contribute to the beneficial effects of incretin-based therapies on atherosclerosis and
fatty liver disease.