Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors and non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists: Ushering in a new era of nephroprotection beyond renin-angiotensin system blockade

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The therapeutic options for preventing or slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) have been thus far limited. While angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are, without a doubt, safe and effective drugs, a significant proportion of patients with CKD still progress to end-stage kidney disease. After decades of negative trials, nephrologists have finally found cause for optimism with the introduction of sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors and non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (MRAs). Recent trials such as EMPA-REG OUTCOME and CREDENCE have provided evidence of the renal benefits of SGLT2 inhibitors, which have now found widespread acceptance as first-line agents for diabetic CKD, in addition to ACEi/ARBs. Considering results from the DAPA-CKD study, it is expected that their use will soon be expanded to other causes of albuminuric CKD as well, although confirmation from further trials, such as the EMPA-KIDNEY study is awaited. Likewise, although the role of mineralocorticoid receptor overactivation in CKD progression has been known for decades, it is only now with the FIDELIO-DKD study that we have evidence of benefits of MRAs on hard renal endpoints, specifically in patients with diabetic CKD. While further research is ongoing, given the evidence of synergism between the three drug classes, it is foreseeable that a combination of two or more of these drugs may soon become the standard of care for CKD, regardless of underlying aetiology. This review describes pathophysiologic mechanisms, current evidence and future perspectives on the use of SGLT2 inhibitors and novel MRAs in CKD.

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