Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Physiology and Biophysics

First Advisor

John R Grider

Second Advisor

Karnam S Murthy


In response to ingestion of nutrients, enteroendocrine L cells secrete the incretin hormone, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), to enhance glucose-dependent insulin release. Therapies related to GLP-1 are approved for type 2 diabetes. The GLP-1 receptor (GLP-1R) is expressed in cells of the gastrointestinal tract and elsewhere. In pancreatic beta cells, GLP-1R are coupled to the Gs/cAMP/PKA pathway. The expression and function of GLP-1R in gastrointestinal smooth muscle are not known. Aim. To test the hypothesis that GLP-1 regulates smooth muscle function by acting on GLP-1R expressed on smooth muscle. Methods. Smooth muscle cells (SMC) were isolated and cultured. Expression of GLP-1R mRNA was measured by RT-PCR. Expression of GLP-1R protein was measured by western blot. The effect of GLP-1 (7-36) amide on Gαs activation, cAMP formation, and PKA activity was examined in cultured SMC. The effect of GLP-1 on basal activity and on acetylcholine-induced contraction was measured in intact colon via organ bath. Results. Amplification of GLP-1R mRNA suggested expression of GLP-1R mRNA in mucosal and non-mucosal colon cells, which was confirmed in pure SMC cultures. Similar patterns of protein expression were obtained with western blot. Addition of GLP-1 caused relaxation of phasic activity and agonist-induced tonic contractions in intact colon, suggesting a role of smooth muscle Gs-coupled GLP-1R in mediating relaxation. In SMC, GLP-1 (7-36) amide activated Gas, increased cAMP levels, and stimulated PKA activity. Conclusion. Colonic SMC express GLP-1R, and GLP-1 inhibits both basal and acetylcholine-induced contraction. The GLP1-R is coupled to the heterotrimeric G protein, Gas.


© Alexander T May

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