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Mechanism of Action

Nateglinide is an amino-acid derivative that lowers blood glucose levels by stimulating insulin secretion from the pancreas. This action is dependent upon functioning beta-cells in the pancreatic islets. Nateglinide interacts with the ATP-sensitive potassium (K+ATP) channel on pancreatic beta-cells. The subsequent depolarization of the beta cell opens the calcium channel, producing calcium influx and insulin secretion. The extent of insulin release is glucose dependent and diminishes at low glucose levels. Nateglinide is highly tissue selective with low affinity for heart and skeletal muscle.



Following oral administration immediately prior to a meal, nateglinide is rapidly absorbed with mean peak plasma drug concentrations (Cmax) generally occurring within 1 hour (Tmax) after dosing. When administered to patients with Type 2 diabetes over the dosage range 60 mg to 240 mg three times a day for one week, nateglinide demonstrated linear pharmacokinetics for both AUC (area under the time/plasma concentration curve) and Cmax. Tmax was also found to be independent of dose in this patient population. Absolute bioavailability is estimated to be approximately 73%. When given with or after meals, the extent of nateglinide absorption (AUC) remains unaffected. However, there is a delay in the rate of absorption characterized by a decrease in Cmax and a delay in time to peak plasma concentration (Tmax). Plasma profiles are characterized by multiple plasma concentration peaks when nateglinide is administered under fasting conditions. This effect is diminished when nateglinide is taken prior to a meal.


Based on data following intravenous (IV) administration of nateglinide, the steady-state volume of distribution of nateglinide is estimated to be approximately 10 liters in healthy subjects. Nateglinide is extensively bound (98%) to serum proteins, primarily serum albumin, and to a lesser extent alpha1 acid glycoprotein. The extent of serum protein binding is independent of drug concentration over the test range of 0.1-10 mcg / ml.


Nateglinide (Starlix) is metabolized by the mixed-function oxidase system prior to elimination. The major routes of metabolism are hydroxylation followed by glucuronide conjugation. The major metabolites are less potent antidiabetic agents than nateglinide. The isoprene minor metabolite possesses potency similar to that of the parent compound nateglinide. In-vitro data demonstrate that nateglinide is predominantly metabolized by cytochrome P450 isoenzymes CYP2C9 (70%) and CYP3A4 (30%).


Starlix (Nateglinide) and its metabolites are rapidly and completely eliminated following oral administration. Within 6 hours after dosing, approximately 75% of the administered 14C-nateglinide was recovered in the urine. Eighty-three percent of the 14C-nateglinide was excreted in the urine with an additional 10% eliminated in the feces. Approximately 16% of the 14C-nateglinide was excreted in the urine as parent compound. In all studies of healthy volunteers and patients with Type 2 diabetes, nateglinide plasma concentrations declined rapidly with an average elimination half-life of approximately 1.5 hours. Consistent with this short elimination half-life, there was no apparent accumulation of nateglinide upon multiple dosing of up to 240 mg three times daily for 7 days.

Drug Interactions

In-vitro drug metabolism studies indicate that Starlix (Nateglinide) is predominantly metabolized by the cytochrome P450 isozyme CYP2C9 (70%) and to a lesser extent CYP3A4 (30%). Nateglinide (Starlix) is a potential inhibitor of the CYP2C9 isoenzyme in vivo as indicated by its ability to inhibit the in-vitro metabolism of tolbutamide. Inhibition of CYP3A4 metabolic reactions was not detected in in-vitro experiments.

Glyburide: In a randomized, multiple-dose crossover study, patients with Type 2 diabetes were administered 120 mg Starlix (Nateglinide) three times a day before meals for 1 day in combination with glyburide 10 mg daily. There were no clinically relevant alterations in the pharmacokinetics of either agent.

Metformin: When Starlix 120 mg three times daily before meals was administered in combination with metformin 500 mg three times daily to patients with Type 2 diabetes, there were no clinically relevant changes in the pharmacokinetics of either agent.

Digoxin: When Starlix 120 mg before meals was administered in combination with a single 1-mg dose of digoxin to healthy volunteers, there were no clinically relevant changes in the pharmacokinetics of either agent.

Warfarin: When healthy subjects were administered Nateglinide (Starlix) 120 mg three times daily before meals for four days in combination with a single dose of warfarin 30 mg on day 2, there were no alterations in the pharmacokinetics of either agent. Prothrombin time was not affected.

Diclofenac: Administration of morning and lunch doses of Starlix 120 mg in combination with a single 75-mg dose of diclofenac in healthy volunteers resulted in no significant changes to the pharmacokinetics of either agent.

Special Populations

Geriatric: Age did not influence the pharmacokinetic properties of nateglinide. Therefore, no dose adjustments are necessary for elderly patients.

Gender: No clinically significant differences in nateglinide pharmacokinetics were observed between men and women. Therefore, no dose adjustment based on gender is necessary.

Race: Results of a population pharmacokinetic analysis including subjects of Caucasian, Black, and other ethnic origins suggest that race has little influence on the pharmacokinetics of nateglinide.

Renal Impairment: Compared to healthy matched subjects, patients with type 2 diabetes and moderate-to-severe renal insufficiency (CrCl 15-50 ml / min) not on dialysis displayed similar apparent clearance, AUC, and Cmax. Patients with Type 2 diabetes and renal failure on dialysis exhibited reduced overall drug exposure. However, hemodialysis patients also experienced reductions in plasma protein binding compared to the matched healthy volunteers.

Hepatic Impairment: The peak and total exposure of nateglinide in non-diabetic subjects with mild hepatic insufficiency were increased by 30% compared to matched healthy subjects. Starlix (Nateglinide) should be used with caution in patients with chronic liver disease.


Nateglinide (Starlix) is rapidly absorbed and stimulates pancreatic insulin secretion within 20 minutes of oral administration. When Starlix is dosed three times daily before meals there is a rapid rise in plasma insulin, with peak levels approximately 1 hour after dosing and a fall to baseline by 4 hours after dosing.

In a double-blind, controlled clinical trial in which Starlix was administered before each of three meals, plasma glucose levels were determined over a 12-hour, daytime period after 7 weeks of treatment. Starlix was administered 10 minutes before meals. The meals were based on standard diabetic weight maintenance menus with the total caloric content based on each subject's height. Starlix produced statistically significant decreases in fasting and postprandial glycemia compared to placebo.

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