GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1) and its mimetic exendin-4 are used against Type 2 diabetes. C-peptide has also proven promising to enhance insulin action. Since insulin secretion in vivo can be rapidly tuned by changes in islet microcirculation, we evaluated the influence of GLP-1, exendin-4 and C-peptide on pancreatic IBF (islet blood flow), and dynamic changes in insulin secretion and glycaemia in the rat. Adult male Wistar rats were divided into four groups given intravenous saline, GLP-1, exendin-4 or C-peptide respectively and administered either saline or 30% glucose. Furthermore, we investigated the effect of intravenous infusion of different doses of exendin-4 into either the femoral vein or the portal vein on islet microcirculation. A non-radioactive microsphere technique was adopted to measure the regional blood flow. Both GLP-1 and exendin-4 prevented the glucose-induced PBF (pancreatic blood flow) redistribution into the islets. Infusion of exendin-4 into the portal vein did not alter pancreatic islet microcirculation, while infusion of exendin-4 into femoral vein significantly decreased basal IBF. C-peptide increased basal IBF and the proportion of IBF out of total PBF, but did not affect the islet microcirculation after glucose administration. GLP-1, exendin-4 and C-peptide stimulated insulin secretion and significantly decreased glycaemia. Blocking NO formation did not prevent the decreased IBF and post-load glycaemia evoked by exendin-4, but further decreased IBF and KBF (kidney blood flow) and increased basal glycaemia. Blocking the vagus nerve enhanced pancreatic IBF and further decreased post-load glycaemia and KBF and increased basal glycaemia. The vascular modulatory effect on pancreatic islet microcirculation described herein, with subsequent effects on in vivo insulin secretion and glycaemia, might be one of the mechanisms underlying the anti-diabetic actions of GLP-1 and its long acting mimetic exendin-4, as well as that of C-peptide.

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