Use of SGLT2 inhibitors in type 2 diabetes: weighing the risks and benefits

Diabetologia. 2018 Oct;61(10):2118-2125. doi: 10.1007/s00125-018-4663-6. Epub 2018 Aug 22.


Sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors belong to a novel class of glucose-lowering medications that reduce plasma glucose concentrations by inhibiting glucose reabsorption by the kidney, inducing glucosuria. Their actions encompass reductions in HbA1c, fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels, body weight and BP. To date, empagliflozin and canagliflozin have additionally been shown to improve cardiovascular outcomes in high-risk individuals and to slow the progression of diabetic kidney disease. Adverse effects associated with this class include urinary frequency, dehydration, genitourinary tract infections and, rarely, euglycaemic diabetic ketoacidosis. Of the SGLT2 inhibitors, only canagliflozin has been linked to a higher risk of lower-extremity amputations and bone fractures compared with placebo. Optimal prescribing of agents within this relatively new drug category requires a full understanding of their risks in addition to their benefits.

Keywords: Benefits; Cardiovascular; Fractures; Ketoacidosis; Renal; Review; Risks; SGLT2 inhibitors; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Benzhydryl Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Weight
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Canagliflozin / therapeutic use
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / drug therapy
  • Glucosides / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Ketosis / metabolism
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 / metabolism*
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Weight Loss


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Blood Glucose
  • Glucosides
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • SLC5A2 protein, human
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors
  • Canagliflozin
  • empagliflozin