Dopamine Agonists

What are dopamine agonists and how do they work?

Dopamine agonists are a type of drug that may be prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes. They were initially designed to treat other health conditions, but it was discovered that they also have the effect of lowering blood sugar levels.

Insulin is a hormone, produced by the pancreas, that transfers glucose (sugar) from foods and drinks you consume from the bloodstream and into the cells, where it provides fuel. In people with type 2 diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin, or the body produces insulin that does not work as well as it should to transport glucose to the cells.

The dopamine agonist used to treat type 2 diabetes is sold under the brand name:

  • Cycloset (bromocriptine)

What is Cycloset (bromocriptine)?

Cycloset, a type of dopamine agonist used to treat type 2 diabetes, is an oral medication that comes in tablet form. It should be used in addition to lifestyle management (maintaining a healthy diet and regular physical exercise) to improve your blood sugar control.

Dopamine agonists work by affecting the way the brain processes a substance called dopamine, by increasing the activity of dopamine receptors. This has the effect of increasing a person’s sensitivity to insulin, which means that the body does not need as much insulin to transform glucose into energy. For some people with type 2 diabetes, increased insulin sensitivity can help you to control your blood sugar levels.

According to the AACE guidelines, Cycloset is usually prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes who have tried taking one or more other types of diabetes medications, but their blood sugar is still not under control after a few months. In such cases, healthcare providers may recommend that you try treatment with Cycloset in addition to lifestyle management and taking your other medications, to help bring your blood sugar under control.

Be sure to take Cycloset exactly as instructed by your healthcare provider, and never stop taking this or any other diabetes medications without talking with your healthcare provider. Do not take Cycloset if you are allergic to it or any of the ingredients in Cycloset. Also, check with your healthcare provider about any potential drug interactions.

Some of the most common side effects reported by people who take Cycloset are:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Runny Nose
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Asthenia (weakness/lack of energy)

A small number of people may experience serious side effects from taking Cycloset. These include:

Let your healthcare provider know if you experience side effects after taking Cycloset or any other medication for type 2 diabetes.

Written by: Anna Nicholson | Last reviewed: April 2017
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