Pleiotropic effects of the dipeptidylpeptidase-4 inhibitors on the cardiovascular system

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2014 Aug 15;307(4):H477-92. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00209.2014.


Dipeptidylpeptidase-4 (DPP-4) is a ubiquitously expressed transmembrane protein that removes NH2-terminal dipeptides from various substrate hormones, chemokines, neuropeptides, and growth factors. Two known substrates of DPP-4 include the incretin hormones glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and gastric inhibitory peptide, which are secreted by enteroendocrine cells in response to postprandial hyperglycemia and account for 60–70% of postprandial insulin secretion. DPP-4 inhibitors (DPP-4i) block degradation of GLP-1 and gastric inhibitory peptide, extend their insulinotropic effect, and improve glycemia. Since 2006, several DPP-4i have become available for treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Clinical trials confirm that DPP-4i raises GLP-1 levels in plasma and improves glycemia with very low risk for hypoglycemia and other side effects. Recent studies also suggest that DPP-4i confers cardiovascular and kidney protection, beyond glycemic control, which may reduce the risk for further development of the multiple comorbidities associated with obesity/type 2 diabetes mellitus, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and kidney disease. The notion that DPP-4i may improve CVD outcomes by mechanisms beyond glycemic control is due to both GLP-1-dependent and GLP-1-independent effects. The CVD protective effects by DPP-4i result from multiple factors including insulin resistance, oxidative stress, dyslipidemia, adipose tissue dysfunction, dysfunctional immunity, and antiapoptotic properties of these agents in the heart and vasculature. This review focuses on cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating the CVD protective effects of DPP-4i beyond favorable effects on glycemic control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Incretins / metabolism
  • Metabolic Diseases / drug therapy
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism


  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors
  • Incretins
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1