Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are still the prevailing cause of death not only in industrialized countries, but even worldwide. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (type 2 DM) and hyperlipidemia, a metabolic disorder that is often associated with diabetes, are major risk factors for developing CVD. Recently, clinical trials proved the safety of gliptins in treating patients with type 2 DM. Gliptins are dipeptidyl-peptidase 4 (DPP4/CD26) inhibitors, which stabilize glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), thereby increasing the bioavailability of insulin. Moreover, blocking DPP4 results in increased levels of stromal cell derived factor 1 (SDF-1). SDF-1 has been shown in pre-clinical animal studies to improve heart function and survival after myocardial infarction, and to promote arteriogenesis, the growth of natural bypasses, compensating for the function of an occluded artery. Clinical trials, however, failed to demonstrate a superiority of gliptins compared to placebo treated type 2 DM patients in terms of cardiovascular (CV) outcomes. This review highlights the function of DPP4 inhibitors in type 2 DM, and in treating cardiovascular diseases, with special emphasis on arteriogenesis. It critically addresses the potency of currently available gliptins and gives rise to hope by pointing out the most relevant questions that need to be resolved.
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