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Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors in type 2 diabetes may reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases: a population-based cohort study
  1. Seoyoung C Kim1,2,3,
  2. Sebastian Schneeweiss1,3,
  3. Robert J Glynn1,
  4. Michael Doherty1,
  5. Allison B Goldfine4,
  6. Daniel H Solomon1,2
  1. 1Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Seoyoung C Kim, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 1620 Tremont Street, Suite 3030 Boston, MA 02120, USA; skim62{at}


Objective Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP4), also known as CD26, is a transmembrane glycoprotein that has a costimulatory function in the immune response. DPP4 inhibitors (DPP4i) are oral glucose-lowering drugs for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). This study evaluated the risk of incident rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune diseases (AD) such as systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease, associated with DPP4i in patients with T2DM.

Methods Using US insurance claims data (2005–2012), we conducted a population-based cohort study that included initiators of combination therapy with DPP4i (DPP4i plus metformin) and non-DPP4i (non-DPP4i plus metformin). RA and other AD were identified with ≥2 diagnoses and ≥1 dispensing for AD-specific immunomodulating drugs or steroids. Composite AD includes RA or other AD. Propensity score (PS)-stratified Cox proportional hazards models compared the risk of AD in DPP4i initiators versus non-DPP4i, controlling for potential confounders.

Results After asymmetric trimming on the PS, 73 928 patients with T2DM starting DPP4i combination therapy and 163 062 starting non-DPP4i combination therapy were selected. Risks of incident RA and composite AD were lower in the DPP4i group versus non-DPP4i with the PS-stratified HR of 0.66 (95% CI 0.44 to 0.99) for RA, 0.73 (0.51 to 1.03) for other AD and 0.68 (95% CI 0.52 to 0.89) for composite AD.

Conclusions In this large cohort of diabetic patients, those initiating DPP4i combination therapy appear to have a decreased risk of incident AD including RA compared with those initiating non-DPP4i combination therapy. These results may suggest possible pharmacological pathways for prevention or treatment of AD.

  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Epidemiology
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

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