Acute kidney injury and adverse renal events in patients receiving SGLT2-inhibitors: A systematic review and meta-analysis

PLoS Med. 2019 Dec 9;16(12):e1002983. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002983. eCollection 2019 Dec.


Background: Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors (SGLT2is) represent a new class of oral hypoglycemic agents used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. They have a positive effect on the progression of chronic kidney disease, but there is a concern that they might cause acute kidney injury (AKI).

Methods and findings: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of SGLT2is on renal adverse events (AEs) in randomized controlled trials and controlled observational studies. PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane library, and were searched without date restriction until 27 September 2019. Data extraction was performed using a standardized data form, and any discrepancies were resolved by consensus. One hundred and twelve randomized trials (n = 96,722) and 4 observational studies with 5 cohorts (n = 83,934) with a minimum follow-up of 12 weeks that provided information on at least 1 adverse renal outcome (AKI, combined renal AE, or hypovolemia-related events) were included. In 30 trials, 410 serious AEs due to AKI were reported. SGLT2is reduced the odds of suffering AKI by 36% (odds ratio [OR] 0.64 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53-0.78], p < 0.001). A total of 1,089 AKI events of any severity (AEs and serious AEs [SAEs]) were published in 41 trials (OR 0.75 [95% CI 0.66-0.84], p < 0.001). Empagliflozin, dapagliflozin, and canagliflozin had a comparable benefit on the SAE and AE rate. AEs related to hypovolemia were more commonly reported in SGLT2i-treated patients (OR 1.20 [95% CI 1.10-1.31], p < 0.001). In the observational studies, 777 AKI events were reported. The odds of suffering AKI were reduced in patients receiving SGLT2is (OR 0.40 [95% CI 0.33-0.48], p < 0.001). Limitations of this study are the reliance on nonadjudicated safety endpoints, discrepant inclusion criteria and baseline hypoglycemic therapy between studies, inconsistent definitions of renal AEs and hypovolemia, varying follow-up times in different studies, and a lack of information on the severity of AKI (stages I-III).

Conclusions: SGLT2is reduced the odds of suffering AKI with and without hospitalization in randomized trials and the real-world setting, despite the fact that more AEs related to hypovolemia are reported.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / drug therapy*
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Canagliflozin / therapeutic use
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / chemically induced
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Glucosides / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Glucosides
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors
  • Canagliflozin
  • empagliflozin

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.