B.H.R. Wolffenbuttel, J.P.J.E. Sels, M.S.P. Huijberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Type 2 diabetes mellitus is characterised by impaired insulin secretion, diminished peripheral insulin action and increased hepatic glucose production. Clinical trials have indicated that near-normal glucose control may reduce the risk for microvascular and - to a lesser extent - macrovascular complications in Type 2 diabetic patients. Thiazolidinediones improve insulin action by activating a nuclear receptor, PPARgamma. Therefore, these drugs are often referred to as 'insulin sensitisers'. Rosiglitazone is the second compound of this group. Clinical studies with rosiglitazone have shown that it is effective in lowering blood glucose levels in Type 2 diabetic patients treated with either diet alone, sulphonylurea or metformin. Preliminary studies suggest that rosiglitazone also improves glycaemic control in insulin-treated patients while even slightly decreasing insulin dose. The magnitude of the effects is, however, moderate. In diet-treated patients, the reduction of HbA1c levels amounted on average 0.5 - 1.5% and addition to existing sulphonylurea therapy decreased HbA1c by 1.0 - 1.2%. The clinical relevance of additional beneficial effects, i.e., on blood pressure and microalbuminuria, needs to be determined further. Rosiglitazone does not cause hypoglycaemia or gastrointestinal side effects. There is however some concern related to fluid retention, which seems to be an effect of all PPARgamma agonists. In patients treated with rosiglitazone, no severe hepatotoxic side effects have been noticed until now. In the treatment of our patients with Type 2 diabetes, drugs like rosiglitazone which directly reduce insulin resistance are very welcome but more data on its combined use with insulin are needed. Additional studies will also explore its long-term effects in sparing beta-cell function and reducing diabetes-related complications and atherosclerosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-478
Number of pages12
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001

Cite this