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Gut Hormone Test Predicts Individual Efficacy of Gastric Bypass

Neuherberg, November 8, 2013. The sensitivity of the GLP-1 hormone, which is secreted by the gastrointestinal tract, can predict the metabolic efficacy of a gastric bypass. The use of a GLP1 challenge could thus function as a novel predictive biomarker for personalized treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. These findings were reported by scientists of Helmholtz Zentrum München and the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA in the current issue of the journal Diabetes.

Gut Hormone Test Predicts Individual Efficacy of Gastric Bypass

Prof. Dr. Matthias Tschöp (Source: TUM)

The gastric bypass is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the treatment of obesity. In most patients, it quickly produces substantial body weight loss. Moreover, even before the weight loss, the procedure leads to improved glucose tolerance. However, these metabolic improvements vary considerably from patient to patient.

A hormone test may be able to predict the extent of metabolic improvement caused by the gastric bypass. These are the results of a study on a rodent model conducted by Prof. Dr. Matthias Tschöp and his colleagues from the Institute of Diabetes and Obesity (IDO), Helmholtz Diabetes Center at Helmholtz Zentrum München together with a team of researchers led by Dr. Kirk Habegger at the Metabolic Disease Institute of the University of Cincinnati.

After gastric bypass surgery, the concentration of the gut hormone GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1) in the blood rises significantly. GLP-1 increases insulin secretion and contributes to improved blood glucose levels and blood lipids. As the rat studies by the Tschöp and Habegger research teams showed, GLP-1 responsiveness varied considerably with regard to glucose metabolism. More importantly, the more responsive the animals were to GLP-1, the greater the efficacy of the gastric bypass turned out to be regarding glucose metabolism improvements.

Thus, the responsiveness to GLP-1 could be a key indicator for the success of the gastric bypass. “If our results are confirmed in clinical trials with patients, the hormone response could be tested before the planned surgery and surgeons would be able to predict how much an individual patient’s glucose metabolism would benefit,” said Tschöp. “This will contribute to the development of personalized therapies for type 2 diabetes and obesity. For surgical procedures such as gastric bypass this is particularly compelling because such operations are complex and cannot be easily reversed.”

The numerous secondary diseases related to excess weight and obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, are among the most common diseases in Germany. These diseases are the focus of research at Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner in the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD).

Further information

Original publication:
Habegger, KM et al (2013). GLP-1R responsiveness predicts individual gastric bypass efficacy on glucose tolerance in rats, Diabetes, doi: 10.2337/db13-0511

Link to publication


As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,100 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 34,000 staff members.

The German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) brings together experts in the field of diabetes research and interlinks basic research, epidemiology and clinical applications. Members are the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf, the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE) in Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health, the Paul Langerhans Institutes of the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus in Dresden and the University of Tübingen, as well as the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Association and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. The objective of the DZD is to find answers to open questions in diabetes research by means of a novel, integrative research approach and to make a significant contribution to improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes mellitus.

The Institute of Diabetes and Obesity (IDO) studies the diseases of the metabolic syndrome by means of systems biological and translational approaches on the basis of cellular systems, genetically modified mouse models and clinical intervention studies. It seeks to discover new signaling pathways in order to develop innovative therapeutic approaches for the personalized prevention and treatment of obesity, diabetes and their concomitant diseases. IDO is part of the Helmholtz Diabetes Center (HDC).

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Specialist contact

Prof. Matthias Tschöp, Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Institute of Diabetes and Obesity, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg - Tel. +49 89 3187-2103 -