Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter 2 Inhibition and Diabetic Kidney Disease

Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) is now the principal cause of chronic kidney disease leading to end-stage kidney disease worldwide. As a primary contributor to the excess risk of all-cause and cardiovascular death in diabetes, DKD is a major contributor to the progressively expanding global burden of diabetes-associated morbidity and mortality. Sodium–glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors are a newer class of antihyperglycemic agents that exert glucose-lowering effects via glycosuric actions. Preclinical studies and clinical trials of SGLT2 inhibitors have consistently demonstrated reduction of albuminuria and preservation of kidney function. In particular, SGLT2 inhibitors lower risk of congestive heart failure, a major cardiovascular complication in DKD. This Perspective summarizes proposed mechanisms of action for SGLT2 inhibitors, integrates these data with results of recent cardiovascular outcomes trials, and discusses clinical applications for patients with DKD. The American Diabetes Association/European Association for the Study of Diabetes Consensus Report published online in October 2018 recommends SGLT inhibitors as preferred add-on therapy for patients with type 2 diabetes and established cardiovascular disease or chronic kidney disease, if kidney function is adequate. Results of the ongoing and just completed clinical trials conducted in patients with established DKD will facilitate further refinement of current guidelines.