Incretins represent a group of gut-derived peptide hormones that, at physiological concentrations, potentiate the release of insulin. Work leading to the discovery of incretins began as early as the late 1800s where scientists, including Claude Bernard who is widely considered the father of modern physiology (Rehfeld, J.F. The Origin and Understanding of the Incretin Concept. Front. Endocrinol. (Lausanne) (2018) 9, 387; Robin, E.D. Claude Bernard. Pioneer of regulatory biology. JAMA (1979) 242, 1283–1284), attempted to understand the pancreas as an important organ in the development of diabetes mellitus and blood glucose control. After the seminal work of Paulescu and Banting and Best in the early 1920s that led to the discovery of insulin (Murray I. Paulesco and the isolation of insulin. J. Hist. Med. Allied Sci. (1971) 26, 150–157; Raju T.N. The Nobel Chronicles. 1923: Frederick G. Banting (1891–1941), John J.R. Macleod (1876–1935). Lancet (1998) 352, 1482), attention was turned toward understanding gastrointestinal factors that might regulate insulin secretion. A series of experiments by Jean La Barre showed that a specific fraction of intestinal extract caused a reduction in blood glucose. La Barre posited that the fraction’s glucose lowering actions occurred by increasing insulin release, after which he coined the term ‘incretin’. In the 1970s, the first incretin was purified, glucose insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) (Gupta K. and Raja A. Physiology, Gastric Inhibitory Peptide StatPearls Treasure Island (FL); 2020), followed by the discovery of a second incretin in the 1980s, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Interest and understanding of the incretins, has grown since that time.

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