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Diabetes Metab. 2019 Jun;45(3):213-223. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2019.01.008. Epub 2019 Jan 29.

Beneficial effects of SGLT2 inhibitors on fatty liver in type 2 diabetes: A common comorbidity associated with severe complications.

Author information

1
Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Medicines (CIRM), University of Liège, and Division of Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolic Disorders, Department of Medicine, CHU Liège, Liège, Belgium. Electronic address: andre.scheen@chuliege.be.

Abstract

Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) are exposed to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a comorbidity associated with cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease, and which may progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis and cirrhosis. Sodium-glucose cotransporter type-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors are glucose-lowering agents that improve glucose control while promoting weight loss and lowering serum uric acid levels. These agents may exert cardiovascular and renal protection in T2DM patients with established cardiovascular disease. Recent findings from both randomized controlled trials and open-label studies have also shown that SGLT2 inhibitors are able to reduce fatty liver content, as assessed by different imaging techniques, and improve biological markers of NAFLD, especially serum liver enzymes, in patients with T2DM. In addition, there are emerging data to suggest a mechanism beyond the reduction of hyperglycaemia and body weight, and a potential role for the decrease in low-grade inflammation and oxidative stress associated with SGLT2 inhibitor therapy. This positive effect of SGLT2 inhibitors on NAFLD complements their already well-known effects on cardiovascular and chronic kidney diseases.

KEYWORDS:

Fatty liver; Liver enzymes; NAFLD; NASH; SGLT2 inhibitor

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