Glucagon - like peptide - 1 (7-36) - amide (GLP-1) is an endogenous insulinotropic peptide that is secreted from the gastrointestinal tract in response to food. It enhances pancreatic islet β-cell proliferation, glucose-dependent insulin secretion, and lowers blood glucose and food intake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. GLP-1 receptors, are coupled to the cyclic AMP second messenger pathway, and are expressed throughout the brain of rodents and humans. We previously reported that GLP-1 and exendin-4, a naturally occurring, long-acting analogue of GLP-1 that binds the GLP-1 receptor (GLP-1R), possess neurotrophic properties. GLP-1R agonists protect neurons against amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) and glutamate-induced apoptosis in cell culture studies and attenuate cholinergic neuron atrophy in the basal forebrain of the rat following an excitotoxic lesion. The biochemical cascades activated by neural GLP-1R stimulation are discussed in comparison to those activated by pancreatic receptors, and, additionally, are compared to signaling pathways associated with the classical neurotrophins. GLP-1R stimulation promotes pathways that favour cell survival over apoptosis. GLP-1 readily enters brain, and its diverse physiological actions, which include insulinotropic, cardiovascular as well as neurotrophic ones, may prove beneficial in a variety of diseases prevalent in aging, including Alzheimers disease (AD). Its ability to lower brain levels of Aβ in mice would appear to be particularly pertinent in this regard. Furthermore, the ready availability of clinical material and the clinical history of its long term use in subjects with type 2 diabetes would support testing the value of GLP-1R agonists in AD trials.
Keywords: insulinotropic peptide, apoptosis, dipeptidyl peptidase(dpp), hippocampus, diabetes, synaptic loss, neurofibrillary, nerve growth factor (ngf)
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