Which medications in the drug class Antidiabetics, Thiazolidinediones are used in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus?

Updated: Sep 27, 2021
  • Author: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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Antidiabetics, Thiazolidinediones

Thiazolidinediones reduce insulin resistance in the periphery (ie, they sensitize muscle and fat to the actions of insulin) and perhaps to a small degree in the liver (ie, insulin sensitizers, antihyperglycemics). They activate peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor (PPAR) gamma, a nuclear transcription factor that is important in fat cell differentiation and fatty acid metabolism. The major action of thiazolidinediones is probably actually fat redistribution. These drugs may have beta-cell preservation properties.

Thiazolidinediones have moderate glycemic efficacy, between that of alpha-glucosidase inhibitors and sulfonylureas.

Pioglitazone (Actos)

Pioglitazone is indicated as an adjunct to diet and exercise to improve glycemic control. It improves target-cell response to insulin without increasing insulin secretion from the pancreas. It also increases insulin-dependent glucose use in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. Pioglitazone lowers triglycerides more than rosiglitazone, probably because of its PPAR-alpha effect.

Long duration of pioglitazone use and high cumulative doses have been linked with slightly increased risk for bladder cancer. The FDA currently recommends not prescribing pioglitazone for patients with active bladder cancer and using it with caution in patients with a history of bladder cancer.

Rosiglitazone (Avandia)

Rosiglitazone is an insulin sensitizer with a major effect on the stimulation of glucose uptake in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. It lowers plasma insulin levels. It is indicated for type 2 diabetes associated with insulin resistance, as monotherapy and in conjunction with sulfonylureas and/or metformin and insulin. It may preserve beta-cell function and yields positive effects on vasculature and inflammation. It changes LDL and HDL particle size.

Because of data suggesting an elevated risk of myocardial infarction in patients treated with rosiglitazone, this agent is currently available only via a restricted access program. Patients currently taking rosiglitazone and benefiting from the drug are permitted to continue using it if they choose to do so. Rosiglitazone is available to new patients only if they are unable to achieve glucose control on other medications and are not willing to take pioglitazone, the only other thiazolidinedione.

As of November 18, 2011, rosiglitazone was no longer available in retail pharmacies. It can be purchased only through specially certified pharmacies participating in the Avandia-Rosiglitazone Medicines Access Program.

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