Medicine & USMLE

alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors

Diabetes Drugs (Old)
  1. Insulin Preparations
  2. Metformin
  3. Glitazones / Thiazolidinediones
  4. First-Gen Sulfonylureas
  5. Second-Gen Sulfonylureas
  6. Meglitinides
  7. GLP-1 Analogs
  8. DPP-4 Inhibitors
  9. alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors
  10. Pramlintide


Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors work in the intestinal brush-border to block the breakdown of complex carbohydrates into simple sugars like glucose. This prevents their absorption, resulting in lowering of blood sugar levels after meals. The important drug names you should know are acarbose and miglitol.  Note that gastrointestinal side effects are seen as a result of poor carbohydrate absorption, like flatulence and diarrhea.

Key Points

  • α-glucosidase inhibitors
    • Drugs
      • Acarbose
      • Miglitol
    • Mechanism
      • Inhibit alpha-glucosidases
        • alpha-glucosidase is located on the intestinal brush border
        • Decreased absorption of glucose → decreased postprandial hyperglycemia
    • Side Effects
      • No hypoglycemia
      • Diarrhea / flatulence
        • This is caused by the fermentation of unabsorbed carbohydrates