Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a growing public health concern worldwide. Numerous drug classes are available for treatment, however, their efficacy with regard to diabetes-induced renal and cardiovascular (CV) complications remains limited. Inhibitors of the sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) are a new class of blood glucose lowering medications that block renal glucose reabsorption and have protective effects on the kidney and the heart. This review focusses on the effects of SGLT2 inhibitors on the kidney and renal outcome: it briefly outlines renal glucose handling in diabetes and its role in glomerular hyperfiltration and renal hypoxia; describes how SGLT2 inhibitors induce an early, reversible reduction in glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and preserve GFR in the long-term in patients with T2DM; discusses whether the enhanced active transport in the renal outer medulla (OM) in response to SGLT2 inhibition is friend or foe; proposes how the blood pressure lowering and heart failure protective effect of SGLT2 inhibitors can be preserved in chronic kidney disease (CKD) despite attenuated antihyperglycemic effects; and examines whether SGLT2 inhibition enhances the incidence or severity of acute kidney injury (AKI).

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