The incretins glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) account for up to 60% of postprandial insulin release in healthy people. Previous studies showed a reduced incretin effect in patients with type 2 diabetes but a robust response to exogenous GLP-1. The primary goal of this study was to determine whether endogenous GLP-1 regulates insulin secretion in type 2 diabetes.


Twelve patients with well-controlled type 2 diabetes and eight matched nondiabetic subjects consumed a breakfast meal containing d-xylose during fixed hyperglycemia at 5 mmol/l above fasting levels. Studies were repeated, once with infusion of the GLP-1 receptor antagonist, exendin-(9–39) (Ex-9), and once with saline.


The relative increase in insulin secretion after meal ingestion was comparable in diabetic and nondiabetic groups (44 ± 4% vs. 47 ± 7%). Blocking the action of GLP-1 suppressed postprandial insulin secretion similarly in the diabetic and nondiabetic subjects (25 ± 4% vs. 27 ± 8%). However, Ex-9 also reduced the insulin response to intravenous glucose (25 ± 5% vs. 26 ± 7%; diabetic vs. nondiabetic subjects), when plasma GLP-1 levels were undetectable. The appearance of postprandial ingested d-xylose in the blood was not affected by Ex-9.


These findings indicate that in patients with well-controlled diabetes, the relative effects of enteral stimuli and endogenous GLP-1 to enhance insulin release are retained and comparable with those in nondiabetic subjects. Surprisingly, GLP-1 receptor signaling promotes glucose-stimulated insulin secretion independent of the mode of glucose entry. Based on rates of d-xylose absorption, GLP-1 receptor blockade did not affect gastric emptying of a solid meal.


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