Diabetes treatment in patients with renal disease: Is the landscape clear enough?

World J Diabetes. 2014 Oct 15;5(5):651-8. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v5.i5.651.


Diabetes is the most important risk factors for chronic kidney disease (CKD). The risk of CKD attributable to diabetes continues to rise worldwide. Diabetic patients with CKD need complicated treatment for their metabolic disorders as well as for related comorbidities. They have to treat, often intensively, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, bone disease, anaemia, and frequently established cardiovascular disease. The treatment of hypoglycaemia in diabetic persons with CKD must tie their individual goals of glycaemia (usually less tight glycaemic control) and knowledge on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drugs available to a person with kidney disease. The problem is complicated from the fact that in many efficacy studies patients with CKD are excluded so data of safety and efficacy for these patients are missing. This results in fear of use by lack of evidence. Metformin is globally accepted as the first choice in practically all therapeutic algorithms for diabetic subjects. The advantages of metformin are low risk of hypoglycaemia, modest weight loss, effectiveness and low cost. Data of UKPDS indicate that treatment based on metformin results in less total as well cardiovascular mortality. Metformin remains the drug of choice for patients with diabetes and CKD provided that their estimate Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) remains above 30 mL/min per square meter. For diabetic patients with eGFR between 30-60 mL/min per square meter more frequent monitoring of renal function and dose reduction of metformin is needed. The use of sulfonylureas, glinides and insulin carry a higher risk of hypoglycemia in these patients and must be very careful. Lower doses and slower titration of the dose is needed. Is better to avoid sulfonylureas with active hepatic metabolites, which are renally excreted. Very useful drugs for this group of patients emerge dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors. These drugs do not cause hypoglycemia and most of them (linagliptin is an exception) require dose reduction in various stages of renal disease.

Keywords: Antidiabetic drugs; Chronic kidney disease; Diabetes; Dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors; Metformin; Therapeutic algorithm.

Publication types

  • Review