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Sodium Glucose Co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) Inhibitors: New among Antidiabetic Drugs


Type 2 diabetes is characterized by decreased insulin secretion and sensitivity. The available oral anti-diabetic drugs act on many different molecular sites. The most used of oral anti-diabetic agents is metformin that activates glucose transport vesicles to the cell surface. Others are: the sulphonylureas; agents acting on the incretin system; GLP-1 agonists; dipetidylpeptidase-4 inhibitors; meglinitide analogues; and the thiazolidinediones. Despite these many drugs acting by different mechanisms, glycaemic control often remains elusive. None of these drugs have a primary renal mechanism of action on the kidneys, where almost all glucose excreted is normally reabsorbed. That is where the inhibitors of glucose reuptake (sodium-glucose cotransporter 2, SGLT2) have a unique site of action. Promotion of urinary loss of glucose by SGLT2 inhibitors embodies a new principle of control in type 2 diabetes that has several advantages with some urogenital side-effects, both of which are evaluated in this review. Specific approvals include use as monotherapy, when diet and exercise alone do not provide adequate glycaemic control in patients for whom the use of metformin is considered inappropriate due to intolerance or contraindications, or as add-on therapy with other anti-hyperglycaemic medicinal products including insulin, when these together with diet and exercise, do not provide adequate glycemic control. The basic mechanisms are improved β-cell function and insulin sensitivity. When compared with sulphonylureas or other oral antidiabetic agents, SGLT2 inhibitors provide greater HbA1c reduction. Urogenital side-effects related to the enhanced glycosuria can be troublesome, yet seldom lead to discontinuation. On this background, studies are analysed that compare SGLT2 inhibitors with other oral antidiabetic agents. Their unique mode of action, unloading the excess glycaemic load, contrasts with other oral agents that all act to counter the effects of diabetic hyperglycaemia.

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Correspondence to L. H. Opie.

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Opie, L.H. Sodium Glucose Co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) Inhibitors: New among Antidiabetic Drugs. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther 28, 331–334 (2014).

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  • Antidiabetic drugs
  • Renal glucose uptake
  • Ascending tubule
  • Sodium-glucose Co-transporter 2