Advances in micro- and nanotechnologies for the GLP-1-based therapy and imaging of pancreatic beta-cells

Faruk H. Moonschi, Corey B. Hughes, George M. Mussman, John L. Fowlkes, Chris I. Richards, Iuliana Popescu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Therapies to prevent diabetes in particular the progressive loss of β-cell mass and function and/or to improve the dysregulated metabolism associated with diabetes are highly sought. The incretin-based therapy comprising GLP-1R agonists and DPP-4 inhibitors have represented a major focus of pharmaceutical R&D over the last decade. The incretin hormone GLP-1 has powerful antihyperglycemic effect through direct stimulation of insulin biosynthesis and secretion within the β-cells; it normalizes β-cell sensitivity to glucose, has an antiapoptotic role, stimulates β-cell proliferation and differentiation, and inhibits glucagon secretion. However, native GLP-1 therapy is inappropriate due to the rapid post-secretory inactivation by DPP-4. Therefore, incretin mimetics developed on the backbone of the GLP-1 or exendin-4 molecule have been developed to behave as GLP-1R agonists but to display improved stability and clinical efficacy. New formulations of incretins and their analogs based on micro- and nanomaterials (i.e., PEG, PLGA, chitosan, liposomes and silica) and innovative encapsulation strategies have emerged to achieve a better stability of the incretin, to improve its pharmacokinetic profile, to lower the administration frequency or to allow another administration route and to display fewer adverse effects. An important advantage of these formulations is that they can also be used at the targeted non-invasive imaging of the beta-cell mass. This review therefore focuses on the current state of these efforts as the next step in the therapeutic evolution of this class of antidiabetic drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-418
Number of pages14
JournalActa Diabetologica
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Beta-cell
  • Diabetes
  • GLP-1
  • Incretins
  • Microparticles
  • Nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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