Dipeptidylpeptidase-4 inhibitors (gliptins): focus on drug-drug interactions

Clin Pharmacokinet. 2010 Sep;49(9):573-88. doi: 10.2165/11532980-000000000-00000.


Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) are generally treated with many pharmacological compounds and are exposed to a high risk of drug-drug interactions. Indeed, blood glucose control usually requires a combination of various glucose-lowering agents, and the recommended global approach to reduce overall cardiovascular risk generally implies administration of several protective compounds, including HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), antihypertensive compounds and antiplatelet agents. New compounds have been developed to improve glucose-induced beta-cell secretion and glucose control, without inducing hypoglycaemia or weight gain, in patients with T2DM. Dipeptidylpeptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors are novel oral glucose-lowering agents, which may be used as monotherapy or in combination with other antidiabetic compounds, metformin, thiazolidinediones or even sulfonylureas. Sitagliptin, vildagliptin and saxagliptin are already on the market, either as single agents or in fixed-dose combined formulations with metformin. Other compounds, such as alogliptin and linagliptin, are in a late phase of development. This review summarizes the available data on drug-drug interactions reported in the literature for these five DDP-4 inhibitors: sitagliptin, vildagliptin, saxagliptin, alogliptin and linagliptin. Possible pharmacokinetic interferences have been investigated between each of these compounds and various pharmacological agents, which were selected because there are other glucose-lowering agents (metformin, glibenclamide [glyburide], pioglitazone/rosiglitazone) that may be prescribed in combination with DPP-4 inhibitors, other drugs that are currently used in patients with T2DM (statins, antihypertensive agents), compounds that are known to interfere with the cytochrome P450 (CYP) system (ketoconazole, diltiazem, rifampicin [rifampin]) or with P-glycoprotein transport (ciclosporin), or agents with a narrow therapeutic safety window (warfarin, digoxin). Generally speaking, almost no drug-drug interactions or only minor drug-drug interactions have been reported between DPP-4 inhibitors and any of these drugs. The gliptins do not significantly modify the pharmacokinetic profile and exposure of the other tested drugs, and the other drugs do not significantly alter the pharmacokinetic profile of the gliptins or exposure to these. The only exception concerns saxagliptin, which is metabolized to an active metabolite by CYP3A4/5. Therefore, exposure to saxagliptin and its primary metabolite may be significantly modified when saxagliptin is coadministered with specific strong inhibitors (ketoconazole, diltiazem) or inducers (rifampicin) of CYP3A4/5 isoforms. The absence of significant drug-drug interactions could be explained by the favourable pharmacokinetic characteristics of DPP-4 inhibitors, which are not inducers or inhibitors of CYP isoforms and are not bound to plasma proteins to a great extent. Therefore, according to these pharmacokinetic findings, which were generally obtained in healthy young male subjects, no dosage adjustment is recommended when gliptins are combined with other pharmacological agents in patients with T2DM, with the exception of a reduction in the daily dosage of saxagliptin when this drug is used in association with a strong inhibitor of CYP3A4/A5. It is worth noting, however, that a reduction in the dose of sulfonylureas is usually recommended when a DPP-4 inhibitor is added, because of a pharmacodynamic interaction (rather than a pharmacokinetic interaction) between the sulfonylurea and the DPP-4 inhibitor, which may result in a higher risk of hypoglycaemia. Otherwise, any gliptin may be combined with metformin or a thiazolidinedione (pioglitazone, rosiglitazone), leading to a significant improvement in glycaemic control without an increased risk of hypoglycaemia or any other adverse event in patients with T2DM. Finally, the absence of drug-drug interactions in clinical trials in healthy subjects requires further evidence from large-scale studies, including typical subjects with T2DM - in particular, multimorbid and geriatric patients receiving polypharmacy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adamantane / analogs & derivatives
  • Adamantane / pharmacokinetics
  • Adamantane / pharmacology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Dipeptides / pharmacokinetics
  • Dipeptides / pharmacology
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics*
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Linagliptin
  • Nitriles / pharmacokinetics
  • Nitriles / pharmacology
  • Piperidines / pharmacokinetics
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Purines / pharmacokinetics
  • Purines / pharmacology
  • Pyrazines / pharmacokinetics
  • Pyrazines / pharmacology
  • Pyrrolidines / pharmacokinetics
  • Pyrrolidines / pharmacology
  • Quinazolines / pharmacokinetics
  • Quinazolines / pharmacology
  • Sitagliptin Phosphate
  • Triazoles / pharmacokinetics
  • Triazoles / pharmacology
  • Uracil / analogs & derivatives
  • Uracil / pharmacokinetics
  • Uracil / pharmacology
  • Vildagliptin


  • Dipeptides
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors
  • Nitriles
  • Piperidines
  • Purines
  • Pyrazines
  • Pyrrolidines
  • Quinazolines
  • Triazoles
  • Linagliptin
  • Uracil
  • saxagliptin
  • Vildagliptin
  • alogliptin
  • Adamantane
  • Sitagliptin Phosphate