William T. Cefalu. The Physiologic Role of Incretin Hormones: Clinical Applications. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2010;110(3_suppl_2):S8–S14. doi: .
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Treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) traditionally has involved a progression of phases, from conventional lifestyle interventions and monotherapy, to combination therapy involving oral agents, to insulin initiation and its use either alone or with oral pharmacotherapy. Currently, the need for antidiabetic therapies with fewer adverse effects (eg, weight gain, reduced rates of hypoglycemia) is unmet. In addition, most treatments fail to adequately control postprandial hyperglycemia. Traditional options have generally been directed at the “insulin demand” aspect and have targeted insulin secretion or insulin resistance in peripheral tissues. Only recently have agents been available to address the “glucose supply” aspect that leads to fasting hyperglycemia in patients with T2DM. Incretin-based therapies, however, address both aspects. Two classes of incretin-directed therapies are available and work by either increasing endogenous levels of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) (ie, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors) or by mimicking the activity of endogenous GLP-1 (ie, GLP-1 agonists). These therapies treat the key metabolic abnormalities associated with T2DM but do so with reduced rates of hypoglycemia and do not promote weight gain as compared with conventional therapies.
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