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Efficacy of the glucagon-like peptide-1 agonist exenatide in the treatment of short bowel syndrome


Address for Correspondence
Mark Pimentel, MD, FRCP(C), Director, GI Motility Program, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, 8730 Alden Drive, Thalians Building, 2nd Floor East, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA.
Tel: +310 869 3513; fax: +310 423 8356;


Background  Short bowel syndrome (SBS) is a serious clinical disorder characterized by diarrhea and nutritional deprivation. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a key hormone, produced by L-cells in the ileum, that regulates proximal gut transit. When extensive ileal resection occurrs, as in SBS, GLP-1 levels may be deficient. In this study, we test whether the use of GLP-1 agonist exenatide can improve the nutritional state and intestinal symptoms of patients with SBS.

Methods  Five consecutive patients with SBS based on ≤90 cm of small bowel and clinical evidence of nutritional deprivation were selected. Baseline SBS symptoms, demographic and laboratory data were obtained. Antroduodenal manometry was performed on each subject. Each patient was then started on exenatide and over the following month, the baseline parameters were repeated.

Key Results  The subjects consisted of four males and one female, aged 46–69 years. At baseline, all had severe diarrhea that ranged from 6 to 15 bowel movements per day, often occurring within minutes of eating. After exenatide, all five patients had immediate improvement in bowel frequency and form; bowel movements were no longer meal-related. Total parenteral nutrition was stopped successfully in three patients. Antroduodenal manometry revealed continuous low amplitude gastric contractions during fasting which completely normalized with exenatide.

Conclusions & Inferences  Exenatide is a novel and safe treatment option for SBS. It produced substantial improvement in the bowel habits, nutritional status and quality of life of SBS patients. Successful treatment with exenatide may significantly reduce the need for parenteral nutrition and small bowel transplant.