Identification of genipin as a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes


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Virginia Tech


Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a chronic metabolic disease characterized by hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, and the dysfunction of β-cells. While there are several therapies for T2D, there is no effective treatment that can reverse the functional decline of pancreatic β cells in T2D patients. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a peptide hormone secreted by human intestinal L cells, which can stimulate the proliferation and differentiation of β cells and promote glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS), thereby playing a critical role in maintaining glycemic homeostasis. Recently, GLP-1-based medications have been developed for treating T2D. However, most of the GLP-1-based drugs are expensive and have significant adverse effects. Therefore, development of safer and more convenient agents that can mimic the physiologically fed state to promote endogenous GLP-1 secretory function of intestinal L-cells to improve glucose homeostasis holds great potential for the prevention and treatment of T2D. This project aimed to examine whether natural compound genipin promotes intestinal GLP-1 secretion and exerts anti-diabetic effects. I found that genipin rapidly increased GLP-1 secretion from intestinal L-cells, with 10 and 100 μM concentration inducing significant incretin hormone release. L-cells exposed to genipin displayed a rapid increase in intracellular [Ca²⁺]i and the activity of phospholipase C (PLC). Inhibition of PLC ablated genipin-stimulated Ca²⁺] increase and GLP-1 secretion, suggesting that genipin-induced GLP-1 release from the cells depends on the PLC/Ca²⁺ pathway. In vivo, genipin reduced the non-fasting and fasting blood glucose levels, improved insulin resistance, and protected again high fat diet-induced liver damage. All together, these data indicate that genipin is a naturally occurring anti-diabetic agent, which could be a pharmaceutical lead for developing anti-diabetic drugs.



Genipin, GLP-1, L cells, blood glucose, liver, mice