Background Diabetes disregulates inflammatory responses and impairs vascular function in wounds. Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (Glp-1R) agonists are hypoglycemic agents with pleiotropic vascular protective and anti-inflammatory effects. The therapeutic potential of a Glp-1 analogue in a diabetic rat model of excisional wound injury was investigated. Materials and methods Excisional wounds were created on the dorsum of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats, which received placebo or Glp-1 analogue exendin-4 (Ex4; 0.5 μg/kg/d, i.p.) for 2 wk. The final-to-initial wound area ratio was measured for 14 d. Levels of superoxide anions and proinflammatory cytokines in the wound were determined. Angiogenesis was assessed using the Matrigel assay. Expression levels of proangiogenic factors and extracellular matrix proteins were measured. Results Ex4 restored wound closure in diabetic rats and significantly suppressed the generation of superoxide anions and interleukin-6 in wounds. The number of circulating endothelial progenitor (CD34+/KDR+) cells increased significantly in Ex4-treated diabetic rats, which also showed increased capillary tube formation. Protein levels of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2, phosphorylated endothelial nitric oxide synthase, matrix metalloproteinase-2, and transforming growth factor-β were increased in diabetic rats receiving Ex4 therapy. Ex4-enhanced vascularity, dermal regeneration, and epidermal regeneration, while it decreased hemorrhaging and increased the number of proliferative cells in the dermis. Conclusions Ex4 accelerated excisional wound healing in subjects with diabetes. Glp-1R activation attenuates inflammatory response and enhances angiogenesis during the early proliferation phase of wound healing in diabetic subjects, while it enhances transforming growth factor-β/matrix metalloproteinase-mediated regeneration during the maturation phase. These results suggest that Ex4 could be used as a standard hypoglycemic agent in diabetic patients with wound injury.
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