A review of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists and their effects on lowering postprandial plasma glucose and cardiovascular outcomes in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus

Research paper by David R. Owens MD, Louis Monnier MD, Markolf Hanefeld MD

Indexed on: 12 Jul '17Published on: 11 Jul '17Published in: Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular (CV) comorbidities, with CV disease being the most common cause of death in adults with T2DM. Although glucocentric therapies may improve glycaemic control (as determined by glycated haemoglobin levels), evidence suggests that this approach alone has limited beneficial effects on CV outcomes relative to improvements in lipid and blood pressure control. This may be explained in part by the fact that current antidiabetic treatment regimens primarily address overall glycaemia and/or fasting plasma glucose, but not the postprandial plasma glucose (PPG) excursions that have a fundamental causative role in increasing CV risk. This literature review evaluates the relationship between PPG and the risk of CV disease, discusses the treatment of T2DM with glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) and examines the associated CV outcomes. The literature analysis suggests that exaggerated PPG excursions are a risk factor for CV disease because of their adverse pathophysiologic effects on the vasculature, resulting in increased all-cause and CV-related mortality. Although GLP-1 RAs are well established in the current T2DM treatment paradigm, a subgroup of these compounds has a particularly pronounced, persistent and short-lived effect on gastric emptying and, hence, lower PPG substantially. However, current long-term data on CV outcomes with GLP-1 RAs are contradictory, with both beneficial and adverse effects having been reported. This review explores the opportunity to direct treatment towards controlling PPG excursions, thereby improving not only overall glycaemic control but also CV outcomes.