Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Experimental Diabetes Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 924168, 7 pages
Review Article

A Review on the Association between Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists and Thyroid Cancer

1Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei 10002, Taiwan
2Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei 10002, Taiwan

Received 15 February 2012; Accepted 1 April 2012

Academic Editor: Chien-Jen Chen

Copyright © 2012 Wei-Yih Chiu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


There is a concern on the risk of thyroid cancer associated with glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogs including liraglutide and exenatide. In this article, we review related experimental studies, clinical trials and observational human studies currently available. In rodents, liraglutide activated the GLP-1 receptors on C-cells, causing an increased incidence of C-cell neoplasia. Animal experiments with monkeys demonstrated no increase in calcitonin release and no C-cell proliferation after long-term liraglutide administration. Longitudinal 2-year data from clinical trials do not support any significant risk for the activation or growth of C-cell cancer in humans in response to liraglutide. However, an analysis of the FDA adverse event reporting system database suggested an increased risk for thyroid cancer associated with exenatide after its marketing. Noticeably, a recent study discovered that GLP-1 receptor could also be expressed in human papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTC), but the impact of GLP-1 analogs on PTC is not known. Therefore, GLP-1 analogs might increase the risk of thyroid C-cell pathology in rodents, but its risk in humans awaits confirmation. Since GLP-1 receptor is also expressed in PTC besides C-cells, it is important to investigate the actions of GLP-1 on different subtypes of thyroid cancer in the future.