Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors are a new class of antidiabetic drugs. They inactivate incretin hormones but also have many other effects throughout the body, among which are effects on the immune system. This might result in an increased infection risk. This study assessed the association between use of DPP-4 inhibitors and the reporting of infections.
A nested case-control was conducted using VigiBase, the World Health Organization-Adverse Drug Reactions (WHO-ADR) database. The base cohort consisted of ADRs for antidiabetic drugs (Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical code A10). Cases were defined as ADRs of infection according to the Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities (MedDRA) classification system. All other ADRs were considered controls. Reporting odds ratios (RORs) were calculated to estimate the strength of the association between different classes of antidiabetic drugs and the reporting of infections.
We identified 305,415 suspected ADRs involving antidiabetic drugs in 106,469 case reports, of which 8,083 involved DPP-4 inhibitors monotherapy. Overall, the reporting of infections was higher for patients using DPP-4 inhibitors compared with users of biguanides (ROR 2.3 [95% CI 1.9–2.7]). Reporting of upper respiratory tract infections (ROR 12.3 [95% CI 8.6–17.5]) was significantly associated with use of DPP-4 inhibitors.
This study indicates an increased reporting of infections, in particular upper respiratory tract infections, for users of DPP-4 inhibitors compared with users of other antidiabetic drugs. However, the limitations of spontaneous reporting systems (e.g., underreporting, the Weber-effect, reporting bias) should be taken into account. Therefore, further research is needed to evaluate this suspicion and the underlying mechanism.