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After the LEADER trial and SUSTAIN-6, how do we explain the cardiovascular benefits of some GLP-1 receptor agonists?

Abstract : Recent cardiovascular outcome trials - the LEADER with liragutide and SUSTAIN-6 with semaglutide - have shown significant reductions of major cardiovascular (CV) events with these glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1 receptor agonists. Progressive separation of the treatment and placebo curves, starting clearly between 12 and 18 months of the trial period, and significant reductions in the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke, indicate that the beneficial CV effects observed with GLP-1 receptor agonists could be due to an antiatherogenic effect. So far, the reasons for such an effect of GLP-1 receptor agonists have not been entirely clear, although several hypotheses may be proposed. As the reductions in glycated haemoglobin and systolic blood pressure (SBP) in these trials were modest, and both trials lasted only a short period of time, reductions in hyperglycaemia and SBP are unlikely to be involved in the beneficial CV effects of GLP-1 receptor agonists. On the other hand, their effect on lipids and, in particular, the dramatic decrease in postprandial hypertriglyceridaemia may explain their beneficial CV actions. Reduction of body weight, including a significant decrease in visceral fat in patients using GLP-1 receptor agonists, may also have beneficial CV effects by reducing chronic proatherogenic inflammation. In addition, there are in-vitro data showing a direct anti-inflammatory effect with these agents that could also be involved in their beneficial CV effects. Moreover, studies in humans have shown significant beneficial effects on ischaemic myocardium after a very short treatment period, suggesting a direct effect of GLP-1 receptor agonists on myocardium, although the precise mechanism remains unclear. Finally, as a reduction in insulin resistance has been associated with a decrease in CV risk, it cannot be ruled out that the lowering of insulin resistance induced by GLP-1 receptor agonists might also be involved in their beneficial CV actions.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 5:34:40 PM
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Bruno Verges, B Charbonnel. After the LEADER trial and SUSTAIN-6, how do we explain the cardiovascular benefits of some GLP-1 receptor agonists?. Diabetes & Metabolism, Elsevier Masson, 2017, 43, pp.2S3-2S12. ⟨10.1016/S1262-3636(17)30067-8⟩. ⟨inserm-01517160⟩



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