Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) are at increased risk of severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outcomes possibly because of dysregulated inflammatory responses. Glucose-regulating medications, such as glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonists, dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, and pioglitazone, are known to have anti-inflammatory effects that may improve outcomes in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. In a multinational retrospective cohort study, we used the TriNetX COVID-19 Research Network of 56 large health care organizations to examine these medications in relation to the incidence of hospital admissions, respiratory complications, and mortality within 28 days after a COVID-19 diagnosis. After matching for age, sex, race, ethnicity, BMI, and significant comorbidities, use of GLP-1R agonists and/or pioglitazone was associated with significant reductions in hospital admissions (GLP-1R: 15.7% vs. 23.5%, risk ratio [RR] 0.67 [95% CI 0.57-0.79; P < 0.001]; pioglitazone: 20.0% vs. 28.2%; RR 0.71 [95% CI 0.54-0.93; P = 0.01]). Use of GLP-1R agonists was also associated with reductions in respiratory complications (15.3% vs. 24.9%, RR 0.62 [95% CI 0.52-0.73]; P < 0.001) and incidence of mortality (1.9% vs. 3.3%, RR 0.58 [95% CI 0.35-0.97]; P = 0.04). Use of DPP-4 inhibitors was associated with a reduction in respiratory complications (24.0% vs. 29.2%, RR 0.82 [95% CI 0.74-0.90]; P < 0.001), and continued use of DPP-4 inhibitors after hospitalization was associated with a decrease in mortality compared with those who discontinued use (9% vs. 19%, RR 0.45 [95% CI 0.28-0.72]; P < 0.001). In conclusion, use of glucose-regulating medications, such as GLP-1R agonists, DPP-4 inhibitors, or pioglitazone, may improve COVID-19 outcomes for patients with T2DM; randomized clinical trials are needed to further investigate this possibility.
© 2021 by the American Diabetes Association.