Increasing prevalence of obesity combined with longevity will produce an epidemic of Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes in the next 20 years. This disease is associated with defects in insulin secretion, specifically abnormalities of insulin secretory kinetics and pancreatic β-cell glucose responsiveness. Mechanisms underlying β-cell dysfunction include glucose toxicity, lipotoxicity and β-cell hyperactivity. Defects at various sites in β-cell signal transduction pathways contribute, but no single lesion can account for the common form of Type 2 diabetes. Recent studies highlight diverse β-cell actions of GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) and GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide). These intestinal hormones target the β-cell to stimulate glucose-dependent insulin secretion through activation of protein kinase A and associated pathways. Both increase gene expression and proinsulin biosynthesis, protect against apoptosis and stimulate replication/neogenesis of β-cells. Incretin hormones therefore represent an exciting future multi-action solution to correct β-cell defect in Type 2 diabetes.

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