When metformin is not enough: Pros and cons of SGLT2 and DPP-4 inhibitors as a second line therapy

Angelo Avogaro, Elías Delgado, Ildiko Lingvay

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The newer oral therapies for type 2 diabetes mellitus, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors and sodium glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, have advantages over older agents. Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors are weight neutral and have few adverse effects. Sodium glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors have additional benefits: weight loss, blood pressure reduction, cardiovascular risk reduction, and renoprotective effects. Sodium glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors have increased risk of urogenital infections and possible risk of “euglycaemic” diabetic ketoacidosis. It is important to balance the benefits over the older-oral therapies as these agents are more expensive; yet some analyses suggest that they are within the limits of what is considered cost-effective in health care. We discuss the relative merits and drawbacks of these 2 classes and consider their roles in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. We suggest a number of patient profiles where early use of these agents could be used. We favour the use of SGLT2 inhibitors over DPP-4 inhibitors as add on therapy to metformin when glycaemic targets have not been achieved given their similar glycaemic efficacy and the additional benefits of SGLT2 inhibitors. We particularly favour SGLT2 inhibitors in those where additional weight loss and blood pressure reductions are desired, and in patients with heart failure or cardiovascular disease. Care should be taken to warn patients about genital fungal infections and to avoid use in people with risk factors for SGLT2 associated ketoacidosis. We favour DPP-4 inhibitors in those where side effects of other agents are of concern, the frail elderly population, and those with renal disease precluding SGTL2 inhibitor use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2981
JournalDiabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2018


  • DPP-4 inhibitor
  • SGLT2 inhibitor
  • metformin
  • type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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