Colesevelam for type 2 diabetes mellitus

Colesevelam was originally approved for the treatment of hyperlipidaemia (high blood lipids) in the 2000s but has been shown to improve blood sugar as well. Therefore, we investigated its role in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus. A total of 1450 patients took part in six studies investigating colesevelam. These studies lasted 8 to 26 weeks. Only one small study compared colesevelam directly to placebo, the other five studies investigated a combination of colesevelam with other antidiabetic agents versus a combination of placebo with other antidiabetic agents. There were no two studies with the same intervention and comparison group. When added to other antidiabetic agents colesevelam showed improvements in the control of blood glucose and blood lipids. However, it is difficult to disentangle the effects of colesevelam from the other antidiabetic agents used because only one study compared colesevelam to placebo. The same is true for adverse effects: three studies reported on just a few non-severe hypoglycaemic episodes, no other serious side effects were observed. No study investigated mortality; complications of type 2 diabetes such as eye disease, kidney disease, heart attack and stroke; health-related quality of life; functional outcomes and costs of treatment. Therefore, long-term data on the efficacy and safety of colesevelam are necessary.

Authors' conclusions: 

Colesevelam added on to antidiabetic agents showed significant effects on glycaemic control. However, there is a limited number of studies with the different colesevelam/antidiabetic agent combinations. More information on the benefit-risk ratio of colesevelam treatment is necessary to assess the long-term effects, particularly in the management of cardiovascular risks as well as the reduction in micro- and macrovascular complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Furthermore, long-term data on health-related quality of life and all-cause mortality also need to be investigated.

Read the full abstract...

Colesevelam is a second-generation bile acid sequestrant that has effects on both blood glucose and lipid levels. It provides a promising approach to glycaemic and lipid control simultaneously.


To assess the effects of colesevelam for type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Search strategy: 

Several electronic databases were searched, among these The Cochrane Library (Issue 1, 2012), MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, LILACS, OpenGrey and Proquest Dissertations and Theses database (all up to January 2012), combined with handsearches. No language restriction was used.

Selection criteria: 

We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared colesevelam with or without other oral hypoglycaemic agents with a placebo or a control intervention with or without oral hypoglycaemic agents.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two review authors independently selected the trials and extracted the data. We evaluated risk of bias of trials using the parameters of randomisation, allocation concealment, blinding, completeness of outcome data, selective reporting and other potential sources of bias.

Main results: 

Six RCTs ranging from 8 to 26 weeks investigating 1450 participants met the inclusion criteria. Overall, the risk of bias of these trials was unclear or high. All RCTs compared the effects of colesevelam with or without other antidiabetic drug treatments with placebo only (one study) or combined with antidiabetic drug treatments. Colesevelam with add-on antidiabetic agents demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in fasting blood glucose with a mean difference (MD) of -15 mg/dL (95% confidence interval (CI) -22 to - 8), P < 0.0001; 1075 participants, 4 trials, no trial with low risk of bias in all domains. There was also a reduction in glycosylated haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) in favour of colesevelam (MD -0.5% (95% CI -0.6 to -0.4), P < 0.00001; 1315 participants, 5 trials, no trial with low risk of bias in all domains. However, the single trial comparing colesevelam to placebo only (33 participants) did not reveal a statistically significant difference between the two arms - in fact, in both arms HbA1c increased. Colesevelam with add-on antidiabetic agents demonstrated a statistical significant reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol with a MD of -13 mg/dL (95% CI -17 to - 9), P < 0.00001; 886 participants, 4 trials, no trial with low risk of bias in all domains. Non-severe hypoglycaemic episodes were infrequently observed. No other serious adverse effects were reported. There was no documentation of complications of the disease, morbidity, mortality, health-related quality of life and costs.