GLP-1, a hormone that adjusts blood glucose levels by stimulating insulin production, is reduced in people with obesity, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes, according to new research. GLP-1 also suppresses appetite.
The study, conducted at the Section for Translational Metabolic Physiology at Copenhagen University, is the largest ever analysis of GLP-1 secretion. Researchers analysed 6,000 blood samples from 1,500 people.
The study found that GLP-1 levels are reduced by 25 per cent in people with prediabetes and 20 per cent in obese people compared to average GLP-1 levels.
The findings suggest that impaired GLP-1 does not occur as a result of type 2 diabetes, but occurs at a much earlier stage. Rather than being caused by type 2 diabetes, it increases an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The researchers also noted a difference in GLP-1 reduction between men and women. Women had higher GLP-1 responses than men, but were more affected by impaired to glucose tolerance. The GLP-1 levels of women dropped more significantly than those of men at the onset of impaired glucose tolerance.
The findings may contribute to prevention strategies and therapeutic solutions to type 2 diabetes.
Professor Jens Juul Holst, Scientific Director at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre for Basic Metabolic Research and Department of Biomedical Sciences, Copenhagen University, said: “This is by far the largest study in the world analysing the GLP-1 secretio, and it puts an end to a long debate whether or not an impaired secretion contributes to diabetes development.
Professor Marit Eika Jorgense, Principal Investigator, Clinical Epidemiology at Steno Diabetes Centre and Medical Doctor in the Steno Clinic, promoted the potential significance of the findings: “It is an encouraging finding suggesting that early intervention with GLP-1 analogues may postpone the onset of type 2 diabetes. We should use the findings in prevention strategies for type 2 diabetes and I hope to see results from longitudinal studies in the future, where we can follow the development of GLP-1 secretion over time in people who develop diabetes.”

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