The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of the sodium–glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor dapagliflozin on tissue fatty acid (FA) uptake in the skeletal muscle, brain, small intestine, and subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue of individuals with type 2 diabetes by using positron emission tomography (PET).


In a 6-week randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial, 53 patients with type 2 diabetes treated with metformin received either 10 mg dapagliflozin or placebo daily. Tissue FA uptake was quantified at baseline and end of treatment with PET and the long-chain FA analog radiotracer 14(R,S)-[18F]fluoro-6-thia-heptadecanoic acid. Treatment effects were assessed using ANCOVA, and the results are reported as least square means and 95% CIs for the difference between groups.


A total of 38 patients (dapagliflozin n = 21; placebo n = 17) completed the study. After 6 weeks, skeletal muscle FA uptake was increased by dapagliflozin compared with placebo (1.0 [0.07, 2.0] μmol ⋅ 100 g−1 ⋅ min−1; P = 0.032), whereas uptake was not significantly changed in the small intestine or visceral or subcutaneous adipose tissue. Dapagliflozin treatment significantly increased whole-brain FA uptake (0.10 [0.02, 0.17] μmol ⋅ 100 g−1 ⋅ min−1; P = 0.01), an effect observed in both gray and white matter regions.


Six weeks of treatment with dapagliflozin increases skeletal muscle and brain FA uptake, partly driven by a rise in free FA availability. This finding is in accordance with previous indirect measurements showing enhanced FA metabolism in response to SGLT2 inhibition and extends the notion of a shift toward increased FA use to muscle and brain.

Clinical trial reg. no. NCT03387683, clinicaltrials.gov

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.26042449.

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