Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) circulates at low levels and acts as an incretin hormone, potentiating glucose-dependent insulin secretion from islet β cells. GLP-1 also modulates gastric emptying and engages neural circuits in the portal region and CNS that contribute to GLP-1 receptor–dependent (GLP-1R–dependent) regulation of glucose homeostasis. To elucidate the importance of pancreatic GLP-1R signaling for glucose homeostasis, we generated transgenic mice that expressed the human GLP-1R in islets and pancreatic ductal cells (Pdx1-hGLP1R:Glp1r–/– mice). Transgene expression restored GLP-1R–dependent stimulation of cAMP and Akt phosphorylation in isolated islets, conferred GLP-1R–dependent stimulation of β cell proliferation, and was sufficient for restoration of GLP-1–stimulated insulin secretion in perifused islets. Systemic GLP-1R activation with the GLP-1R agonist exendin-4 had no effect on food intake, hindbrain c-fos expression, or gastric emptying but improved glucose tolerance and stimulated insulin secretion in Pdx1-hGLP1R:Glp1r–/– mice. i.c.v. GLP-1R blockade with the antagonist exendin(9–39) impaired glucose tolerance in WT mice but had no effect in Pdx1-hGLP1R:Glp1r–/– mice. Nevertheless, transgenic expression of the pancreatic GLP-1R was sufficient to normalize both oral and i.p. glucose tolerance in Glp1r–/– mice. These findings illustrate that low levels of endogenous GLP-1 secreted from gut endocrine cells are capable of augmenting glucoregulatory activity via pancreatic GLP-1Rs independent of communication with neural pathways.
Benjamin J. Lamont, Yazhou Li, Edwin Kwan, Theodore J. Brown, Herbert Gaisano, Daniel J. Drucker