Pharmacogenomics of oral antidiabetic medications: current data and pharmacoepigenomic perspective

Pharmacogenomics. 2011 Aug;12(8):1161-91. doi: 10.2217/pgs.11.65.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is an increasingly prevalent disease. Several classes of drugs are currently available to treat T2DM patients; however, clinical response to these drugs often exhibits significant variation among individuals. For the oral antidiabetic drug classes of sulfonylureas, nonsulfonylurea insulin secretagogs, biguanides and thiazolidinediones, pharmacogenomic evidence has accumulated demonstrating an association between specific gene polymorphisms and interindividual variability in their therapeutic and adverse reaction effects. These polymorphisms are in genes of molecules involved in metabolism, transport and therapeutic mechanisms of the aforementioned drugs. Overall, it appears that pharmacogenomics has the potential to improve the management of T2DM and help clinicians in the effective prescribing of oral antidiabetic medications. Although pharmacogenomics can explain some of the heterogeneity in dose requirements, response and incidence of adverse effects of drugs between individuals, it is now clearly understood that much of the diversity in drug effects cannot be solely explained by studying the genomic diversity. Epigenomics, the field that focuses on nongenomic modifications that influence gene expression, may expand the scope of pharmacogenomics towards optimization of drug therapy. Therefore, pharmacoepigenomics, the combined analysis of genetic variations and epigenetic modifications, holds promise for the realization of personalized medicine. Although pharmacoepigenomics has so far been evaluated mainly in cancer pharmacotherapy, studies on epigenomic modifications during T2DM development provide useful data on the potential of pharmacoepigenomics to elucidate the mechanisms underlying interindividual response to oral antidiabetic treatment. In summary, the present article focuses on available data from pharmacogenomic studies of oral antidiabetic drugs and also provides an overview of T2DM epigenomic research, which has the potential to boost the development of pharmacoepigenomics in antidiabetic treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Biguanides / pharmacokinetics
  • Biguanides / pharmacology
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / pathology
  • Epigenomics
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / genetics
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / physiology
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / pharmacokinetics
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / pharmacology
  • Thiazolidinediones / pharmacokinetics
  • Thiazolidinediones / pharmacology


  • Biguanides
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • MicroRNAs
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System