GLP-1–Based Therapies Have No Microvascular Effects in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: An Acute and 12-Week Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

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To assess the effects of glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1–based therapies (ie, GLP-1 receptor agonists and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors) on microvascular function in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Approach and Results—

We studied 57 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (mean±SD age: 62.8±6.9 years; body mass index: 31.8±4.1 kg/m2; HbA1c [glycated hemoglobin] 7.3±0.6%) in an acute and 12-week randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial conducted at the Diabetes Center of the VU University Medical Center. In the acute study, the GLP-1 receptor agonist exenatide (therapeutic concentrations) or placebo (saline 0.9%) was administered intravenously. During the 12-week study, patients received the GLP-1 receptor agonist liraglutide (1.8 mg daily), the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor sitagliptin (100 mg daily), or matching placebos. Capillary perfusion was assessed by nailfold skin capillary videomicroscopy and vasomotion by laser Doppler fluxmetry, in the fasting state and after a high-fat mixed meal. In neither study, treatment affected fasting or postprandial capillary perfusion compared with placebo (P>0.05). In the fasting state, acute exenatide infusion increased neurogenic vasomotion domain power, while reducing myogenic domain power (both P<0.05). After the meal, exenatide increased endothelial domain power (P<0.05). In the 12-week study, no effects on vasomotion were observed.


Despite modest changes in vasomotion, suggestive of sympathetic nervous system activation and improved endothelial function, acute exenatide infusion does not affect skin capillary perfusion in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Twelve-week treatment with liraglutide or sitagliptin has no effect on capillary perfusion or vasomotion in these patients. Our data suggest that the effects of GLP-1–based therapies on glucose are not mediated through microvascular responses.

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