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What is a DPP-4 inhibitor?

A DPP-4 inhibitor is a type of medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. It comes in the form of a pill. DPP-4 medication can be taken alone or in a combination pill that also contains another diabetes medication called metformin.

DPP-4 inhibitors are also called gliptins, after their generic names. DPP-4 inhibitors include sitagliptin (Januvia), saxagliptin (Onglyza), and linagliptin (Tradjenta).

A DPP-4 inhibitor works by blocking an enzyme called dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP-4). This helps lower your blood glucose (blood sugar) in two ways:
  • It decreases the amount of glucose released by your liver, and therefore less glucose enters your bloodstream.
  • It boosts the production of insulin in your pancreas. The additional insulin allows glucose to move out of the bloodstream and into your body’s cells more efficiently.
In 2006, the FDA approved the first DPP-IV inhibitor, an oral medication that increases the body’s ability to produce insulin.

Both DPP-IV inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists help glucose remain stable for longer periods and have few side effects. Unlike the sulfonylureas, used decades earlier, these medications do not increase the risk of hypoglycemia.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.