Inhibition of the sodium glucose co-transporter-2: its beneficial action and potential combination therapy for type 2 diabetes mellitus

L H Chen, P S Leung
Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism 2013, 15 (5): 392-402
Sodium glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors are an emerging class of glucose-lowering drugs in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). In this context, SGLT2 is a low-affinity, high-capacity transporter that is expressed predominantly in the proximal renal tubules. The rationale for using SGLT2 inhibition as a drug for T2DM is derived from early evidence obtained from individuals with familial renal glycosuria, due to a SGLT2 mutation, which exhibits decreased renal tubular reabsorption of glucose in the absence of hyperglycaemia or any other signs of dysfunction. Thus, reduction of glucose reabsorption by SGLT2 inhibition represents a novel T2DM treatment approach. In light of the emerging role of SGLT2 inhibition in controlling glucose homeostasis, the current review provides a critical appraisal of the rationale, overviews of structural differences between SGLT2 inhibitors and summarizes recent preclinical and clinical studies. The physiological actions of SGLT2 inhibition in relation to insulin sensitivity, islet morphology, inflammation, body weight and blood pressure are reviewed. Finally, the safety and tolerability of SGLT2 inhibitors are also discussed in relation to their potential to provide insulin independence and enhance β-cell function, as well as their potential for synergistic/additive effects if used in combination with other antidiabetic drugs.

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