Effects of Incretin Therapy on Skeletal Health in Type 2 Diabetes—A Systematic Review

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Diabetes poses a significant risk to bone health, with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) having a more detrimental impact than Type 2 diabetes (T2D). The group of hormones known as incretins, which includes gastric inhibitory peptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), play a role in regulating bowel function and insulin secretion during feeding. GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) are emerging as the primary treatment choice in T2D, particularly when atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is present. Dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors (DPP-4is), although less potent than GLP-1 RAs, can also be used. Additionally, GLP-1 RAs, either alone or in combination with GIP, may be employed to address overweight and obesity. Since feeding influences bone turnover, a relationship has been established between incretins and bone health. To explore this relationship, we conducted a systematic literature review following the PRISMA guidelines. While some studies on cells and animals have suggested positive effects of incretins on bone cells, turnover, and bone density, human studies have yielded either no or limited and conflicting results regarding their impact on bone mineral density (BMD) and fracture risk. The effect on fracture risk may vary depending on the choice of comparison drug and the duration of follow-up, which was often limited in several studies. Nevertheless, GLP-1 RAs may hold promise for people with T2D who have multiple fracture risk factors and poor metabolic control. Furthermore, a potential new area of interest is the use of GLP-1 RAs in fracture prevention among overweight and obese people. Based on this systematic review, existing evidence remains insufficient to support a positive or a superior effect on bone health to reduce fracture risk in people with T2D.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10817
JournalJBMR plus
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Authors. JBMR Plus published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.


  • analysis/quantitation of bone
  • animal models
  • bone histomorphometry
  • bone QCT/micro–CT
  • fracture risk assessment
  • practice/policy-related issues


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