What is a DPP-4 inhibitor?

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.
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.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

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.