Accelerated atherosclerosis and microvascular complications are the leading causes of coronary heart disease, end-stage renal failure, acquired blindness and a variety of neuropathies, which could account for disabilities and high mortality rates in patients with diabetes. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) belongs to the incretin hormone family. L cells in the small intestine secrete GLP-1 in response to food intake. GLP-1 not only enhances glucose-evoked insulin release from pancreatic β-cells, but also suppresses glucagon secretion from pancreatic ??-cells. In addition, GLP-1 slows gastric emptying. Therefore, enhancement of GLP-1 secretion is a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) is a responsible enzyme that mainly degrades GLP-1, and the half-life of circulating GLP-1 is very short. Recently, DPP-4 inhibitors and DPP-4-resistant GLP-1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonists have been developed and clinically used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes as a GLP-1-based medicine. GLP-1R is shown to exist in extra-pancreatic tissues such as vessels, kidney and heart, and could mediate the diverse biological actions of GLP-1 in a variety of tissues. So, in this paper, we review the pleiotropic effects of GLP-1-based therapies and its clinical utility in vascular complications in diabetes.
Keywords: AGEs, DPP-4, GLP-1, RAGE, diabetic vascular complications, atherosclerosis, insulin, pancreatic β-cells, pancreatic α-cells, glucagon