SGLT2 Inhibitors: A New Class of Diabetes Medications
Sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors are a new class of diabetic medications indicated only for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. In conjunction with exercise and a healthy diet, they can improve glycemic control. They have been studied alone and with other medications including metformin, sulfonylureas, nizagara 100, pioglitazone, and insulin.
Editor’s Note: Since we first looked at this new drug class in April 2013, numerous studies have been done on the benefits and risks of the SGLT2 inhibitors. See below for a roundup of the new information, including the latest investigational drug in this class, Ertugliflozin.
How SGLT2 Inhibitors Work
SGLT2 is a protein in humans that facilitates glucose reabsorption in the kidney. SGLT2 inhibitors block the reabsorption of glucose in the kidney, increase glucose excretion, and lower blood glucose levels.
SGLT2 is a low-affinity, high capacity glucose transporter located in the proximal tubule in the kidneys. It is responsible for 90% of glucose reabsorption. Inhibition of SGLT2 leads to the decrease in blood glucose due to the increase in renal glucose excretion. The mechanism of action of this new class of drugs also offers further glucose control by allowing increased insulin sensitivity and uptake of glucose in the muscle cells, decreased gluconeogenesis and improved first phase insulin release from the beta cells.
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