GLP-1 Secretion Is Increased by Inflammatory Stimuli in an IL-6–Dependent Manner, Leading to Hyperinsulinemia and Blood Glucose Lowering

  1. Michael Lehrke1
  1. 1Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital Aachen, Aachen, Germany
  2. 2Department of Internal Medicine III, University Hospital Aachen, Aachen, Germany
  1. Corresponding author: Michael Lehrke, mlehrke{at}


Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia are both predictors for adverse outcome in critically ill patients. Hyperinsulinemia is induced by inflammatory stimuli as a relevant mechanism for glucose lowering in the critically ill. The incretine hormone GLP-1 was currently found to be induced by endotoxin, leading to insulin secretion and glucose lowering under inflammatory conditions in mice. We here describe GLP-1 secretion to be increased by a variety of inflammatory stimuli, including endotoxin, interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and IL-6. Although abrogation of IL-1 signaling proved insufficient to prevent endotoxin-dependent GLP-1 induction, this was abolished in the absence of IL-6 in respective knockout animals. Hence, we found endotoxin-dependent GLP-1 secretion to be mediated by an inflammatory cascade, with IL-6 being necessary and sufficient for GLP-1 induction. Functionally, augmentation of the GLP-1 system by pharmacological inhibition of DPP-4 caused hyperinsulinemia, suppression of glucagon release, and glucose lowering under endotoxic conditions, whereas inhibition of the GLP-1 receptor led to the opposite effect. Furthermore, total GLP-1 plasma levels were profoundly increased in 155 critically ill patients presenting to the intensive care unit (ICU) in comparison with 134 healthy control subjects. In the ICU cohort, GLP-1 plasma levels correlated with markers of inflammation and disease severity. Consequently, GLP-1 provides a novel link between the immune system and the gut with strong relevance for metabolic regulation in context of inflammation.

  • Received January 19, 2014.
  • Accepted April 28, 2014.

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