1. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (7-36) amide (GLP-1) is a gut hormone released postprandially that stimulates insulin secretion, suppresses glucagon secretion and delays gastric emptying. The insulinotropic action of GLP-1 is more potent under hyperglycaemic conditions. Several published studies have indicated the therapeutic potential of subcutaneous GLP-1 in non-insulin-dependent (Type 2) diabetes mellitus.
2. We investigated whether subcutaneous GLP-1, at a dose shown to improve glycaemic control in early Type 2 diabetes, is insulinotropic at normal fasting glucose concentrations. A double-blind, randomized, crossover study of 10 healthy subjects injected with GLP-1 or saline subcutaneously after a 16 h fast was performed. The effect on cardiovascular parameters was also examined.
3. GLP-1 caused a near 5-fold rise in plasma insulin concentration. After treatment with GLP-1, circulating plasma glucose concentrations fell below the normal range in all subjects. One subject had symptoms of hypoglycaemia after GLP-1. A rise in pulse rate was found which correlated with the fall in plasma glucose concentration. An increase in blood pressure occurred with GLP-1 injection which was seen at the same time as the rise in plasma GLP-1 concentrations.
4. This study indicates that subcutaneous GLP-1 can override the normal homoeostatic mechanism maintaining fasting plasma glucose in man, and is also associated with an increase in blood pressure.