Pathophysiology of prediabetes and treatment implications for the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus

Endocrine. 2013 Jun;43(3):504-13. doi: 10.1007/s12020-012-9830-9. Epub 2012 Nov 7.


Type 2 diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCD) are a growing public health challenge globally. An estimated 285 million people, corresponding to 6.4 % of the world's adult population has diabetes. This is expected to reach 552 million by 2030, 7.8 % of the adult population, with the African region expected to experience the greatest increase. A much larger segment of the world's population, approximating 79 million individuals in the US alone, has prediabetes. Multiple factors including genetic predisposition, insulin resistance, increased insulin secretory demand, glucotoxicity, lipotoxicity, impaired incretin release/action, amylin accumulation, and decreased β-cell mass play a causative role in the progressive β-cell dysfunction characteristic of prediabetes. Interventions preventing progression to type 2 diabetes should therefore delay or prevent β-cell failure. This article will first review the principal pathophysiological mechanisms underlying prediabetes and subsequently address treatment considerations based on these in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. In view of long-standing safety data with demonstrated efficacy and cost-effectiveness in the prevention of type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals, metformin should be considered as initial therapy for those unable to comply with or lifestyle modification or where the latter has been ineffective in decreasing progression to type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / economics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / economics
  • Life Style
  • Metformin / economics
  • Prediabetic State / economics
  • Prediabetic State / etiology*
  • Prediabetic State / physiopathology


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Metformin