Clinical utility of acarbose, an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor in cardiometabolic disorders

Curr Drug Metab. 2009 Feb;10(2):159-63. doi: 10.2174/138920009787522133.


Diabetes is associated with an increase risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Recently, macrovascular complications of diabetes have been shown to start before the development of diabetes. Indeed, several clinical studies have confirmed the increased risk of CVD in patients with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Since postprandial hyperglycemia and insulin resistance are thought to play a central role in the development and progression of CVD in patients with IGT, amelioration of postprandial hyperglycemia as well as insulin resistance is a therapeutic target for the prevention of CVD in these high-risk patients. Acarbose, an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor, delays the absorption of carbohydrate from the small intestine, thereby reducing postprandial hyperglycemia. Further, recently, acarbose has been shown to improve insulin resistance in vivo. These findings suggest that acarbose is a promising metabolic modifier that could reduce the risk of CVD in patients with the metabolic syndrome. In this paper, we review the clinical utility of acarbose in various cardiometabolic disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acarbose / pharmacology
  • Acarbose / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes Complications / prevention & control
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Glycoside Hydrolase Inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / drug therapy
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Risk Factors


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Glycoside Hydrolase Inhibitors
  • Acarbose