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Blood pressure-lowering effects of incretin-based diabetes therapies

Julie A Lovshin, Bernard Zinman
Canadian Journal of Diabetes 2014, 38 (5): 364-71
25284699
Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1) agonists and dipeptidyl-peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors are therapies that are used to treat hyperglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Although both of these medication types primarily lower prandial and fasting blood glucose levels by enhanced GLP-1 receptor signalling, they have distinct mechanisms of action. Whereas DPP-4 inhibitors boost patient levels of endogenously produced GLP-1 (and glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide) by preventing its metabolism by DPP-4 enzymatic activity, GLP-1 receptor agonists are either synthetic analogues of human GLP-1 or exendin-4 based molecules. They are tailored to resist hydrolysis by DPP-4 activity and to provide longer durability in the circulation compared with native GLP-1. Several roles for incretin-based diabetes therapies beyond the endocrine pancreas and their glycemic-lowering properties have now been described, including attenuation of cardiac myocyte injury and reduction in post-ischemic infarction size after cardiovascular insult. Favourable outcomes have also been observed on systolic blood pressure reduction, postprandial intestinal lipoprotein metabolism, endothelial cell function, modulation of innate immune-mediated inflammation and surrogate markers of renal function. As hypertension is an independent risk factor for premature death in patients with type 2 diabetes, potential favourable extrapancreatic actions, particularly within the heart, blood vessels and kidney, for this drug class are of considerable clinical interest. Herein, we highlight and provide critical appraisal of the clinical data supporting the antihypertensive effects of GLP-1 receptor agonists and DPP-4 inhibitors and link possible mechanisms of action to clinical outcomes reported for this drug class.

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