Cardiovascular effects of glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists: from mechanistic studies in humans to clinical outcomes

Valerie D. Heuvelman, Daniel H. Van Raalte, Mark M. Smits

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is currently one of the most prevalent diseases, with as many as 415 million patients worldwide. T2DM is characterized by elevated blood glucose levels and is often accompanied by several comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease. Treatment of T2DM is focused on reducing glucose levels by either lifestyle changes or medical treatment. One treatment option for T2DM is based on the gut-derived hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). GLP-1 reduces blood glucose levels by stimulating insulin secretion, however, it is rapidly degraded, and thereby losing its glycaemic effect. GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs) are immune to degradation, prolonging the glycaemic effect. Lately, GLP-1RAs have spiked the interest of researchers and clinicians due to their beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease. Preclinical and clinical data have demonstrated that GLP-1 receptors are abundantly present in the heart and that stimulation of these receptors by GLP-1 has several effects. In this review, we will discuss the effects of GLP-1RA on heart rate, blood pressure, microvascular function, lipids, and inflammation, as measured in human mechanistic studies, and suggest how these effects may translate into the improved cardiovascular outcomes as demonstrated in several trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)916-930
Number of pages15
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

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