Drug therapy of postprandial hyperglycaemia

Drugs. 1999 Jan;57(1):19-29. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199957010-00003.


It is widely accepted that the most challenging goal in the management of patients with diabetes mellitus is to achieve blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. In general, normalising postprandial blood glucose levels is more difficult than normalising fasting hyperglycaemia. In addition, some epidemiological studies suggest that postprandial hyperglycaemia (PPHG) or hyperinsulinaemia are independent risk factors for the development of macrovascular complications of diabetes mellitus. Recently, several drugs with differing pharmacodynamic profiles have been developed which target PPHG. These include insulin lispro, amylin analogues, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors and meglitinide analogues. Insulin lispro has a more rapid onset of action and shorter duration of efficacy compared with regular human insulin. In clinical trials, the use of insulin lispro was associated with improved control of PPHG and a reduced incidence of hypoglycaemic episodes. Repaglinide, a meglitinide analogue, is a short-acting insulinotropic agent which. when given before meals, stimulates endogenous insulin secretions and lowers postprandial hyperglycaemic excursions. Both insulin lispro and repaglinide are associated with postprandial hyperinsulinaemia. In contrast, amylin analogues reduce PPHG by slowing gastric emptying and delivery of nutrients to the absorbing surface of the gut. Alpha-Glucosidase inhibitors such as acarbose, miglitol and voglibose also reduce PPHG primarily by interfering with the carbohydrate-digesting enzymes and delaying glucose absorption. With the availability of agents which preferentially reduce postprandial blood glucose excursions, it is now possible to achieve glycaemic goals in a larger proportion of individuals with diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 1-Deoxynojirimycin / analogs & derivatives
  • Acarbose
  • Amyloid / therapeutic use
  • Carbamates / therapeutic use
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Glucosamine / analogs & derivatives
  • Glucosamine / therapeutic use
  • Glyburide / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / diet therapy
  • Hyperglycemia / drug therapy*
  • Hyperglycemia / physiopathology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Imino Pyranoses
  • Inositol / analogs & derivatives
  • Inositol / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / analogs & derivatives
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Insulin Lispro
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use
  • Postprandial Period*
  • Trisaccharides / therapeutic use


  • Amyloid
  • Carbamates
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Imino Pyranoses
  • Insulin
  • Insulin Lispro
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Piperidines
  • Trisaccharides
  • miglitol
  • 1-Deoxynojirimycin
  • Inositol
  • repaglinide
  • pramlintide
  • Glucosamine
  • voglibose
  • Glyburide
  • Acarbose