Cardiovascular Actions of Incretin-Based Therapies

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Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonists and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors represent 2 distinct classes of incretin-based therapies used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Activation of GLP-1R signaling or inhibition of DPP-4 activity produces a broad range of overlapping and unique cardiovascular actions. Native GLP-1 regulates cardiovascular biology via activation of the classical GLP-1R, or through GLP-1(9–36), a cardioactive metabolite generated by DPP-4–mediated cleavage. In contrast, clinically approved GLP-1R agonists are not cleaved to GLP-1(9–36) and produce the majority of their actions through the classical GLP-1R. The cardiovascular mechanisms engaged by DPP-4 inhibition are more complex, encompassing increased levels of intact GLP-1, reduced levels of GLP-1(9–36), and changes in levels of numerous cardioactive peptides. Herein we review recent experimental and clinical advances that reveal how GLP-1R agonists and DPP-4 inhibitors affect the normal and diabetic heart and coronary vasculature, often independent of changes in blood glucose. Improved understanding of the complex science of incretin-based therapies is required to optimize the selection of these therapeutic agents for the treatment of diabetic patients with cardiovascular disease.

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