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Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) drives postprandial hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia in pregnant women with a history of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass operation

BACKGROUND: The influential role of incretin hormones on glucose metabolism in patients with a history of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) has been investigated thoroughly, but there has been little examination of the effect of incretins and ectopic lipids on altered glucose profiles, especially severe hypoglycemia in pregnant women with RYGB.

METHODS: In this prospective clinical study, an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), an intravenous glucose tolerance test (IVGTT), and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) were conducted in 25 women with RYGB during pregnancy, 19 of normal weight (NW) and 19 with obesity (OB) between the 24th and the 28th weeks of pregnancy, and 3 to 6 months post-partum. Post-partum, the ectopic lipid content in the liver, heart, and skeletal muscle was analyzed using 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS).

RESULTS: RYGB patients presented with major fluctuations in glucose profiles, including a high occurrence of postprandial hyperglycemic spikes and hypoglycemic events during the day, as well as a high risk of hypoglycemic periods during the night (2.9 ± 1.1% vs. 0.1 ± 0.2% in the OB and vs. 0.8 ± 0.6% in the NW groups, p < 0.001). During the extended OGTT, RYGB patients presented with exaggerated expression of GLP-1, which was the main driver of the exaggerated risk of postprandial hypoglycemia in a time-lagged correlation analysis. Basal and dynamic GLP-1 levels were not related to insulin sensitivity, insulin secretion, or beta cell function and did not differ between pregnant women with and without GDM. A lower amount of liver fat (2.34 ± 5.22% vs.5.68 ± 4.42%, p = 0.015), which was positively related to insulin resistance (homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, HOMA-IR: rho = 0.61, p = 0.002) and beta-cell function (insulinogenic index: rho = 0.65, p = 0.001), was observed in the RYGB group after delivery in comparison to the OB group.

CONCLUSION: GLP-1 is mainly involved in the regulation of postprandial glucose metabolism and therefore especially in the development of postprandial hypoglycemia in pregnant RYGB patients, who are characterized by major alterations in glucose profiles, and thus in long-term regulation, multiple organ-related mechanisms, such as the lipid content in the liver, must be involved.


M. Leutner, P. Klimek, […] S. Thurner, et al., Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) drives postprandial hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia in pregnant women with a history of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass operation, Metabolism 91 (2019) 10–17

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