DPP-4 inhibitors in the management of type 2 diabetes: a critical review of head-to-head trials

A J Scheen
Diabetes & Metabolism 2012, 38 (2): 89-101
Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors offer new options for the management of type 2 diabetes. Direct comparisons with active glucose-lowering comparators in drug-naive patients have demonstrated that DPP-4 inhibitors exert slightly less pronounced HbA(1c) reduction than metformin (with the advantage of better gastrointestinal tolerability) and similar glucose-lowering effects as with a thiazolidinedione (TZD; with the advantage of no weight gain). In metformin-treated patients, gliptins were associated with similar HbA(1c) reductions compared with a sulphonylurea (SU; with the advantage of no weight gain, considerably fewer hypoglycaemic episodes and no need for titration) and a TZD (with the advantage of no weight gain and better overall tolerability). DPP-4 inhibitors also exert clinically relevant glucose-lowering effects compared with a placebo in patients treated with SU or TZD (of potential interest when metformin is either not tolerated or contraindicated), and as oral triple therapy with a good tolerability profile when added to a metformin-SU or pioglitazone-SU combination. Several clinical trials also showed a consistent reduction in HbA(1c) when DPP-4 inhibitors were added to basal insulin therapy, with no increased risk of hypoglycaemia. Because of the complex pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes and the complementary actions of glucose-lowering agents, initial combination of a DPP-4 inhibitor with either metformin or a glitazone may be applied in drug-naive patients, resulting in greater efficacy and similar safety compared with either drug as monotherapy. However, DPP-4 inhibitors were less effective than GLP-1 receptor agonists for reducing HbA(1c) and body weight, but offer the advantage of being easier to use (oral instead of injected administration) and lower in cost. Only one head-to-head trial demonstrated the non-inferiority of saxagliptin vs sitagliptin. Clearly, more trials of direct comparisons between different incretin-based therapies are needed. Because of their pharmacokinetic characteristics, pharmacodynamic properties (glucose-dependent glucose-lowering effect) and good overall tolerability profile, DPP-4 inhibitors may have a key role to play in patients with renal impairment and in the elderly. The role of DPP-4 inhibitors in the therapeutic armamentarium of type 2 diabetes is rapidly evolving as their potential strengths and weaknesses become better defined mainly through controlled clinical trials.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"