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Varna Medical Forum

Incretin-mimetic drugs—nature, benefits, and risks

Nadezhda Hvarchanova


Incretins are gut-derived hormones that are secreted within minutes of a meal to regulate insulin secretion from the pancreas. Currently, the two best-studied incretins are glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP). Incretin-mimetic drugs are the GLP1-receptor agonists and the dual agonist of GIP and GLP-1 receptors. They represent the most modern and effective therapy for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Their application is associated with an improvement in glycemic control, as well as many additional benefits for patients treated with them.

The aim of this review is to analyze the available data on the benefits and risks of incretin mimetics.

Among these benefits are a loss of body mass, a favorable influence on the lipid profile, a reduction in blood pressure, and beneficial effects on atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, confirmed in a number of clinical studies.

However, the use of this relatively new class of drugs may be associated with certain side effects. The most common are gastrointestinal symptoms, injection site reactions, headache, and nasopharyngitis, but these effects usually do not lead to discontinuation of therapy. Studies suggest an increased risk of pancreatitis and thyroid cancer in patients treated with these medications, but several meta-analyses have failed to confirm the relationship between their use and the development of these adverse effects. Ongoing and future studies should evaluate and further elucidate the cardiovascular and overall safety profile of GLP-1 receptor agonists and the dual agonist of GIP and GLP-1 receptors.


incretins, incretin mimetics, GLP-1, GIP, benefits, risks

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