Despite considerable literature supporting the potential health benefits of reducing postprandial glucose (PPG), and insulin (PPI) exposures, the size of a clinically relevant reduction is currently unknown. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantify effects of alpha-glucosidase-inhibiting (AGI) drugs on acute PPG and PPI responses. We searched EMBASE and MEDLINE until March 13, 2018 for controlled studies using AGI drugs together with a standardized carbohydrate load or mixed meal. The mean incremental PPG and PPI levels were calculated as outcomes. Meta-analyses, stratified by diabetes state, were performed by using random effects models. The 66 included publications comprised 127 drug-control comparisons for PPG, and 106 for PPI, mostly testing acarbose or miglitol. The absolute effects on PPG were larger among individuals with diabetes (−1.5 mmol/l mean PPG [95% CI −1.9, −1.1] by acarbose, and −1.6 [−1.9, −1.4] by miglitol) as compared to individuals without diabetes (−0.4 [95% CI −0.5, −0.3] by acarbose, and −0.6 [−0.8, −0.4] by miglitol). Relative reductions in PPG by both drugs were similar for diabetic and non-diabetic individuals (43−54%). Acarbose and miglitol also significantly reduced mean PPI, with absolute and relative reductions being largest among individuals without diabetes. The present meta-analyses provide quantitative estimates of reductions of PPG and PPI responses by AGI drugs in diabetes and non-diabetic individuals. These data can serve as benchmarks for clinically relevant reductions in PPG and PPI via drug or diet and lifestyle interventions.
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