Type 2 Diabetes Drug Improves Glucose Control in Liver Disease Patients

Acute exenatide administration reduces glucose production and insulin resistance in liver tissue.

Study results presented at the International Liver Congress 2016 showed that the type 2 diabetes drug exenatide improved glucose control in the liver and in adipose tissue in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

“There has been much discussion around the benefit of using injectable diabetes treatments, such as exenatide, on other tissues than the pancreas to improve glucose control,” said lead study author Amailia Gastaldelli. “This is why we set out to evaluate the effects of exenatide on the liver and adipose tissue; to better understand the benefits this treatment could offer to a wider group of patients.”

The double-blinded study recruited 15 male participants with a fatty liver index score of >30, four of whom were tested on multiple occasions. Participants with a score <30 were deemed to have a negative likelihood of having a fatty liver.

Thirty minutes before an oral glucose test was performed to measure glucose uptake in liver tissue and abdominal adipose tissue glucose uptake, patients were injected with either exenatide or a placebo.

The results of the study showed that when blood sugar levels were low, acute exenatide administration (5mcg) decreased glucose production and insulin resistance (p=0.02) in the liver tissue.

Furthermore, exenatide improved liver tissue uptake of glucose when it is eaten (p=0.039) and decreased insulin resistance in fatty adipose tissue (p=0.009).

“This interesting study shows promising findings for the many people around the world who suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” said Tom Hemming Carsen, EASL vice secretary. “The authors have succeeded in identifying an existing treatment that can improve liver metabolism, which is an important step forward for the hepatology community.”