GLP-1R agonist therapy for diabetes: benefits and potential risks

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Purpose of review

Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonists provide good glycemic control combined with low hypoglycemia risk and weight loss. Here, we summarize the recently published data for this therapy class, focusing on sustainability of action, use in combination with basal insulin, and the efficacy of longer acting agents currently in development. The safety profile of GLP-1R agonists is also examined.

Recent findings

GLP-1R agonists provide sustained efficacy and their combination with basal insulin is well tolerated, providing additional glycemic control and weight benefits compared with basal insulin alone. Data suggest that the convenience of longer acting agents may be at the expense of efficacy. Despite the initial concerns, most evidence indicates that GLP-1R agonists do not increase the risk of pancreatitis or thyroid cancer. However, the extremely low incidence of these events means further investigations are required before a causal link can be eliminated. Large-scale clinical trials investigating the long-term cardiovascular safety of this therapy class are ongoing and may also provide important insights into pancreatic and thyroid safety.


GLP-1R agonists offer sustained glycemic efficacy, weight loss benefits, and a low risk of hypoglycemia. The results of ongoing trials should help to clarify the safety of this therapy class.

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