Potentiation of glucose-induced insulin secretion by intestinal factors has been described for many years. Today, two major peptides with potent insulinotropic action have been recognized: gastric inhibitory peptide and truncated forms of glucagon-like peptide I, GLP-I(7–37) or the related GLP-I(7–36)amide. These hormones have specific β-cell receptors that are coupled to production of cAMP and activation of cAMP-dependent protein kinase. Elevation in intracellular cAMP levels is required to mediate the glucoincretin effect of these hormones: the potentiation of insulin secretion in the presence of stimulatory concentrations of glucose. In addition, circulating glucoincretins maintain basal levels of cAMP, which are necessary to keep β-cells in a glucose-competent state. Interactions between glucoincretin signaling and glucose-induced insulin secretion may result from the phosphorylation of key elements of the glucose signaling pathway by cAMP-dependent protein kinase. These include the ATP-dependent K+ channel, the Ca++ channel, or elements of the secretory machinery itself. In NIDDM, the glucoincretin effect is reduced. However, basal or stimulated gastric inhibitory peptide and glucagon-like peptide I levels are normal or even elevated, suggesting that signals induced by these hormones on the β-cells are probably altered. At pharmacological doses, infusion of glucagon-like peptide I but not gastric inhibitory peptide, can ameliorate postprandial insulin secretory response in NIDDM patients. Agonists of the glucagon-like peptide I receptor have been proposed as new therapeutic agents in NIDDM.

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