Dipeptidylpeptidase 4 (DPP4) inhibitors have clinical benefit in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus by increasing levels of glucose-lowering incretin hormones, such as glucagon-like peptide -1 (GLP-1), a peptide with a short half life that is secreted for approximately 1 hour following a meal. Since drugs with prolonged binding to their target have been shown to maximize pharmacodynamic effects while minimizing drug levels, we developed a time-dependent inhibitor that has a half-life for dissociation from DPP4 close to the duration of the first phase of GLP-1 release.
Saxagliptin and its active metabolite (5-hydroxysaxagliptin) are potent inhibitors of human DPP4 with prolonged dissociation from its active site (Ki = 1.3 nM and 2.6 nM, t1/2 = 50 and 23 minutes respectively at 37°C). In comparison, both vildagliptin (3.5 minutes) and sitagliptin ( < 2 minutes) rapidly dissociated from DPP4 at 37°C. Saxagliptin and 5-hydroxysaxagliptin are selective for inhibition of DPP4 versus other DPP family members and a large panel of other proteases, and have similar potency and efficacy across multiple species.
Inhibition of plasma DPP activity is used as a biomarker in animal models and clinical trials. However, most DPP4 inhibitors are competitive with substrate and rapidly dissociate from DPP4; therefore, the type of substrate, volume of addition and final concentration of substrate in these assays can change measured inhibition. We show that unlike a rapidly dissociating DPP4 inhibitor, inhibition of plasma DPP activity by saxagliptin and 5-hydroxysaxagliptin in an ex vivo assay was not dependent on substrate concentration when substrate was added rapidly because saxagliptin and 5-hydroxysaxagliptin dissociate slowly from DPP4, once bound. We also show that substrate concentration was important for rapidly dissociating DPP4 inhibitors.
Saxagliptin and its active metabolite are potent, selective inhibitors of DPP4, with prolonged dissociation from its active site. They also demonstrate prolonged inhibition of plasma DPP4 ex vivo in animal models, which implies that saxagliptin and 5-hydroxysaxagliptin would continue to inhibit DPP4 during rapid increases in substrates in vivo.