Clinical evidence and mechanistic basis for vildagliptin's effect in combination with insulin
Anja Schweizer,1 James E Foley,2 Wolfgang Kothny,2 Bo Ahrén3
1Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland; 2Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, East Hanover, NJ, USA; 3Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Abstract: Due to the progressive nature of type 2 diabetes, many patients need insulin as add-on to oral antidiabetic drugs (OADs) in order to maintain adequate glycemic control. Insulin therapy primarily targets elevated fasting glycemia but is less effective to reduce postprandial hyperglycemia. In addition, the risk of hypoglycemia limits its effectiveness and there is a concern of weight gain. These drawbacks may be overcome by combining insulin with incretin-based therapies as these increase glucose sensitivity of both the α- and β-cells, resulting in improved postprandial glycemia without the hypoglycemia and weight gain associated with increasing the dose of insulin. The dipeptidyl peptidase-IV (DPP-4) inhibitor vildagliptin has also been shown to protect from hypoglycemia by enhancing glucagon counterregulation. The effectiveness of combining vildagliptin with insulin was demonstrated in three different studies in which vildagliptin decreased A1C levels when added to insulin therapy without increasing hypoglycemia. This was established with and without concomitant metformin therapy. Furthermore, the effectiveness of vildagliptin appears to be greater when insulin is used as a basal regimen as opposed to being used to reduce postprandial hyperglycemia, since improvement in insulin secretion likely plays a minor role when relatively high doses of insulin are administered before meals. This article reviews the clinical experience with the combination of vildagliptin and insulin and discusses the mechanistic basis for the beneficial effects of the combination. The data support the use of vildagliptin in combination with insulin in general and, in line with emerging clinical practice, suggest that treating patients with vildagliptin, metformin, and basal insulin could be an attractive therapeutic option.
Keywords: DPP-4, GLP-1, GIP, incretin, insulin therapy, type 2 diabetes, hypoglycemia
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