Glucocorticoid excess is commonly associated with diabetogenic effects, including insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. The effects of the long-term glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist treatment on the metabolic syndrome-like conditions are not yet fully elucidated. Thus, we aimed to test whether long-term liraglutide treatment could be effective as a therapy to counteract the metabolic dysfunctions induced by chronic glucocorticoid exposure.
Mice were given corticosterone or vehicle via their drinking water for five consecutive weeks. In addition, mice were treated with once-daily injections of either PBS or liraglutide.
Liraglutide treatment slowed progression towards obesity and ectopic fat deposition in liver that otherwise occurred in corticosterone-treated mice. The drug reduced the increment in serum insulin caused by corticosterone, but did not affect the reduction of insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, liraglutide improved glucose control in mice exposed to corticosterone as evident by a delay in the progression towards post-prandial hyperglycemia and enhanced glucose clearance during a glucose tolerance test. Glucose-stimulated C-peptide levels were higher in those mice that had received liraglutide and corticosterone compared to mice that had been treated with corticosterone alone, indicating a positive role of liraglutide for beta-cell function. Morphometric analysis revealed increased beta- and alpha-cell masses that were associated with more Ki67-positive islet cells in corticosterone-treated mice irrespective of whether they were co-treated with liraglutide or not. Liraglutide had no discernible effect on alpha-cell mass.
Liraglutide can be beneficial for subjects at risk of developing metabolic complications as a result of glucocorticoid excess.