CHICAGO – Liraglutide reduced the risk of kidney disease progression in patients with type 2 diabetes, a study showed.

The latest results from the LEADER (Liraglutide Effect and Action in Diabetes: Evaluation of Cardiovascular Outcome Results) trial build on the previously reported success of liraglutide in reducing the risk of adverse cardiovascular events in people with type 2 diabetes.

“We now have drugs that not only lower blood sugar but also have an impact on new development of diabetic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease,” said Johannes Mann, MD, of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany, in a plenary presentation at the meeting sponsored by the American Society of Nephrology.

The LEADER trial involved people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (mean duration, about 13 years) with a baseline hemoglobin A1c level greater than or equal to 7%. Some had never taken antidiabetic drugs, and some were taking oral antidiabetic drugs and/or basal/premixed insulin. They were either 50 years of age or older with established cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease, or 60 years and older with risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Exclusion criteria included type 1 diabetes; a history of medication with glucagonlike peptide–1 receptor agonists, dipeptidyl peptidase–4 inhibitors, pramlintide, or rapid-acting insulin; and a family/personal history of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 or medullary thyroid cancer.

The 9,340 subjects were randomized in a double-blind fashion to daily subcutaneous injection with 0.6-1.8 mg of liraglutide (4,668) or placebo (4,672) for at least 3.5 years to a maximum treatment time of 5 years. The mean follow-up was 3.8 years.

At baseline, microalbuminuria had been diagnosed in 26.4% and 26.6% of those randomized to liraglutide or placebo, respectively. The respective baseline rates of macroalbuminuria were 10% and 11%. An estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) less than 60 mL/min per 1.73 m2 was present in 23.9% of the liraglutide group and 22.3% of the control group.

In this analysis of the LEADER results, the primary renal outcome was a composite of the development of macroalbuminuria, doubling of serum creatinine, end-stage renal disease, or renal death. Liraglutide was superior to placebo in delaying the time to the primary outcome (hazard ratio, 0.78; 95% confidence interval, 0.67-0.92; P equal to .003). The outcome was driven by the reduction in development of macroalbuminuria (HR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.60-0.91; P = .004), with treatment not being significantly effective for doubling of serum creatinine (HR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.67-1.19) or the need for dialysis (HR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.61-1.24).

The eGFR declined less in the liraglutide arm. The renal protection of the drug was restricted to subjects with a baseline eGFR of 30-59 mL/min per 1.73 m2. Liragutide was not associated with an increased risk of adverse renal events.

The latest results extend the potential indications of the therapeutic prowess of liraglutide in type 2 diabetes patients with chronic kidney disease, with the caveat that the significance of the primary outcome was due to macroalbuminuria rather than the arguably more important outcomes of doubling of serum creatinine and development of end-stage renal disease.

The trial was sponsored and funded by Novo Nordisk, the maker of liraglutide (Victoza) and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Mann disclosed financial relationships with various drug companies, including Novo Nordisk.