Joslin Diabetes Center researchers have discovered how the gut hormone GLP-1 protects the kidneys and how it’s rendered ineffective in diabetes. Produced upon eating, GLP-1 increases insulin, inhibits glucagon release, and helps to lower blood sugar. GLP-1 has been shown to improve kidney cell function, preventing kidney damage in an animal model of diabetes. The Joslin researchers found that GLP-1 protects by inhibiting the signaling pathway of Angiotensin II (Ang II), a hormone that contributes to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. At the same time, they discovered that high blood sugar in diabetes causes over-expression of an enzyme called protein kinase C-beta (PKC-ß), which increases Ang II and inhibits GLP-1. The scientists believe that drugs that inhibit PKC-ß and boost the protective effects of GLP-1 could be used to minimize kidney damage and slow progression of diabetic kidney disease.
New Understanding of Diabetes and Kidney Disease: Findings May Lead to Effective New Treatments, ScienceDaily, July 23, 2012