Self-assembling glucagon-like peptide 1-mimetic peptide amphiphiles for enhanced activity and proliferation of insulin-secreting cells

Saahir Khan, Shantanu Sur, Christina J. Newcomb, Elizabeth A. Appelt, Samuel I. Stupp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Current treatment for type 1 diabetes mellitus requires daily insulin injections that fail to produce physiological glycemic control. Islet cell transplantation has been proposed as a permanent cure but is limited by loss of β-cell viability and function. These limitations could potentially be overcome by relying on the activity of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which acts on β-cells to promote insulin release, proliferation and survival. We have developed a peptide amphiphile (PA) molecule incorporating a peptide mimetic for GLP-1. This GLP-1-mimetic PA self-assembles into one-dimensional nanofibers that stabilize the active secondary structure of GLP-1 and can be cross-linked by calcium ions to form a macroscopic gel capable of cell encapsulation and three-dimensional culture. The GLP-1-mimetic PA nanofibers were found to stimulate insulin secretion from rat insulinoma (RINm5f) cells to a significantly greater extent than the mimetic peptide alone and to a level equivalent to that of the clinically used agonist exendin-4. The activity of the GLP-1-mimetic PA is glucose-dependent, lipid-raft dependent and partially PKA-dependent consistent with native GLP-1. The GLP-1-mimetic PA also completely abrogates inflammatory cytokine-induced cell death to the level of untreated controls. When used as a PA gel to encapsulate RINm5f cells, the GLP-1-mimetic PA stimulates insulin secretion and proliferation in a cytokine-resistant manner that is significantly greater than a non-bioactive PA gel containing exendin-4. Due to its self-assembling property and bioactivity, the GLP-1-mimetic PA can be incorporated into previously developed islet cell transplantation protocols with the potential for significant enhancement of β-cell viability and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1685-1692
Number of pages8
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Biomimetic material
  • Cell activation
  • Cell signaling
  • Diabetes
  • Self-assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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