SGLT2-inhibitors; more than just glycosuria and diuresis

Heart Fail Rev. 2021 May;26(3):623-642. doi: 10.1007/s10741-020-10038-w. Epub 2020 Dec 4.


Heart failure (HF) continues to be a serious public health challenge despite significant advancements in therapeutics and is often complicated by multiple other comorbidities. Of particular concern is type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) which not only amplifies the risk, but also limits the treatment options available to patients. The sodium-glucose linked cotransporter subtype 2 (SGLT2)-inhibitor class, which was initially developed as a treatment for T2DM, has shown great promise in reducing cardiovascular risk, particularly around HF outcomes - regardless of diabetes status.There are ongoing efforts to elucidate the true mechanism of action of this novel drug class. Its primary mechanism of inducing glycosuria and diuresis from receptor blockade in the renal nephron seems unlikely to be responsible for the rapid and striking benefits seen in clinical trials. Early mechanistic work around conventional therapeutic targets seem to be inconclusive. There are some emerging theories around its effect on myocardial energetics and calcium balance as well as on renal physiology. In this review, we discuss some of the cutting-edge hypotheses and concepts currently being explored around this drug class in an attempt better understand the molecular mechanics of this novel agent.

Keywords: Calcium handling; Heart failure; Myocardial energetics; Renal disease; SGLT2-inhibitors; Ventricular remodelling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / drug therapy
  • Diuresis
  • Glycosuria*
  • Humans
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors* / therapeutic use


  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors