How the diabetes drug protects the heart

EMPA-REG trial found that jardiance, an inhibitor of sodium-glucose cotransporter, lowered the risk of heart failure in patients with diabetes. Many pathways have been proposed for such benefits.

Authors propose that reduced activity of the sodium-hydrogen exchanger in the heart and kidneys is the main inciting factor in preventing heart failure. Decreased blood pressure, body weight, fluid retention, and kidney function preservation also play a role. 

Further research would be needed to clarify the molecular, cellular, metabolic, and hemodynamic intricacies of the SGLT2-inhibitor as an armour of the heart.


Also see:

Physiological Effects of SGLT-2 inhibition in Type II Diabetes

Jardiance improves urinary protein leak

Invokana, Diabetes, Heart, Kidney and Amputations.

Diabetes medication and acute kidney injury

Type 2 with Glycosuria, a New Diabetes Subtype?

New drug development: Simultaneous inhibition of SGLT-1 and SGLT-2 in type 1 diabetes


JAMA Cardiology


September 2017

Importance: Only 1 class of glucose-lowering agents—sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors—has been reported to decrease the risk of cardiovascular events primarily by reducing the risk of the development or progression of heart failure. In a landmark trial called Empagliflozin, Cardiovascular Outcomes, and Mortality in Type 2 Diabetes [EMPA-REG Outcomes], long-term treatment with empagliflozin prevented fatal and nonfatal heart failure events but DID NOT REDUCE the risk of myocardial infarction or stroke in diabetic patients.

Observations: The beneficial effect of SGLT2 inhibitors on heart failure cannot be explained by their actions on glycemic control or as osmotic diuretics. Instead, in the kidneys, SGLT2 functionally interacts with the sodium-hydrogen exchanger, which is responsible for the majority of sodium tubular reuptake following filtration.

The [renal] activity of sodium-hydrogen exchanger is markedly increased in patients with heart failure and may be responsible for both resistance to diuretics and to endogenous natriuretic peptides.

In addition, in the heart, empagliflozin appears to inhibit sodium-hydrogen exchange, which may in turn lead to a reduction in cardiac injury, hypertrophy, fibrosis, remodeling, and systolic dysfunction.

Furthermore, the major pathophysiological derangements of heart failure and a preserved ejection fraction may be mitigated by the actions of SGLT2 inhibitors to reduce blood pressure, body weight, and fluid retention as well as to improve renal function.

The benefits of spironolactone in patients with heart failure with either a reduced or a preserved ejection fraction may also be attributable to the actions of the drug to inhibit the sodium-hydrogen exchange mechanism.


Conclusions and Relevance: 

The benefits of SGLT2 inhibitors in heart failure may be mediated by the inhibition of sodium-hydrogen exchange rather than the effect on glucose reabsorption. This hypothesis has important implications for the design and analysis of large-scale outcomes trials involving diabetic or nondiabetic patients with chronic heart failure.

Also see: Sodium Glucose Cotransporter-2 Inhibition in Heart Failure