Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is an incretin hormone, which gets secreted in response to nutritional stimuli from the gut mediating glucose-dependent insulin secretion. Interestingly, GLP-1 was recently found to be also increased in response to inflammatory stimuli in an interleukin 6 (IL-6) dependent manner in mice. The relevance of this finding to humans is unknown but has been suggested by the presence of high circulating GLP-1 levels in critically ill patients that correlated with markers of inflammation. This study was performed to elucidate, whether a direct link exists between inflammation and GLP-1 secretion in humans.
Research design and methods
We enrolled 22 non-diabetic patients scheduled for cardiac surgery as a reproducible inflammatory stimulus with repeated blood sampling before and after surgery.
Mean total circulating GLP-1 levels significantly increased in response to surgery from 25.5 ± 15.6 pM to 51.9 ± 42.7 pM which was not found in a control population. This was preceded by an early rise of IL6, which was significantly associated with GLP-1 under inflammatory but not basal conditions. Using repeated measure ANCOVA, IL6 best predicted the observed kinetics of GLP-1, followed by blood glucose concentrations and cortisol plasma levels. Furthermore, GLP-1 plasma concentrations significantly predicted endogenous insulin production as assessed by C-peptide concentrations over time, while an inverse association was found for insulin infusion rate.
We found GLP-1 secretion to be increased in response to inflammatory stimuli in humans, which was associated to parameters of glucose metabolism and best predicted by IL6.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12933-016-0330-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.