The enteroinsular axis (EIA) constitutes a physiological signalling system whereby intestinal endocrine cells secrete incretin hormones following feeding that potentiate insulin secretion and contribute to the regulation of blood glucose homeostasis. The two key hormones responsible are named glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP). Recent years have witnessed sustained development of antidiabetic therapies that exploit the EIA. Current clinical compounds divide neatly into two classes. One concerns analogues or mimetics of GLP-1, such as exenatide (Byetta) or liraglutide (NN2211). The other group comprises the gliptins (e.g. sitagliptin and vildagliptin) which boost endogenous incretin activity by inhibiting the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP 4) that degrades both GLP-1 and GIP. Ongoing research indicates that further incretin and gliptin compounds will become available for clinical use in the near future, offering comparable or improved efficacy. For incretin analogues there is the prospect of prolonged duration of action and alternative routes of administration. This review focuses on recent advances in pre-clinical research and their translation into clinical studies to provide future therapies for type 2 diabetes targeting the EIA.
Keywords: Diabetes, GLP-1, GIP, dipeptidyl peptidase 4, DPP 4, incretin hormones, insulin, antidiabetic drugs
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