Background: The glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a multifaceted hormone with broad pharmacological potential. Among the numerous metabolic effects of GLP-1 are the glucose-dependent stimulation of insulin secretion, decrease of gastric emptying, inhibition of food intake, increase of natriuresis and diuresis, and modulation of rodent β-cell proliferation. GLP-1 also has cardio- and neuroprotective effects, decreases inflammation and apoptosis, and has implications for learning and memory, reward behavior, and palatability. Biochemically modified for enhanced potency and sustained action, GLP-1 receptor agonists are successfully in clinical use for the treatment of type-2 diabetes, and several GLP-1-based pharmacotherapies are in clinical evaluation for the treatment of obesity.
Scope of review: In this review, we provide a detailed overview on the multifaceted nature of GLP-1 and its pharmacology and discuss its therapeutic implications on various diseases.
Major conclusions: Since its discovery, GLP-1 has emerged as a pleiotropic hormone with a myriad of metabolic functions that go well beyond its classical identification as an incretin hormone. The numerous beneficial effects of GLP-1 render this hormone an interesting candidate for the development of pharmacotherapies to treat obesity, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders.