The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing, which is alarming because of its serious complications. Anti-diabetic treatment aims to control glucose homeostasis as tightly as possible in order to reduce these complications. Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors are a recent addition to the anti-diabetic treatment modalities, and have become widely accepted because of their good efficacy, their benign side-effect profile and their low hypoglycaemia risk. The actions of DPP-4 inhibitors are not direct, but rather are mediated indirectly through preservation of the substrates they protect from degradation. The two incretin hormones, glucagon-like peptide-1 and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, are known substrates, but other incretin-independent mechanisms may also be involved. It seems likely therefore that the mechanisms of action of DPP-4 inhibitors are more complex than originally thought, and may involve several substrates and encompass local paracrine, systemic endocrine and neural pathways, which are discussed here.
Keywords: dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors; incretin therapy; type 2 diabetes.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.