Novel strategies in drug discovery of the calcium-sensing receptor based on biased signaling

Alex Rojas Bie Thomsen, Sanela Smajilovic, Hans Bräuner-Osborne

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A hallmark of chronic kidney disease is hyperphosphatemia due to renal phosphate retention. Prolonged parathyroid gland exposure to hyperphosphatemia leads to secondary hyperparathyroidism characterized by hyperplasia of the glands and excessive secretion of parathyroid hormone (PTH), which causes renal osteodystrophy. PTH secretion from the parathyroid glands is controlled by the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) that senses extracellular calcium. High extracellular calcium activates the CaSR causing inhibition of PTH secretion through multiple signaling pathways. Cinacalcet is the first drug targeting the CaSR and can be used to effectively control and reduce PTH secretion in PTH-related diseases. Cinacalcet is a positive allosteric modulator of the CaSR and affects PTH secretion from parathyroid glands by shifting the calcium-PTH concentration-response curve to the left. One major disadvantage of cinacalcet is its hypocalcemic side effect, which may be caused by increased CaSR-mediated calcitonin secretion from the thyroid gland. However, multiple studies indicate that PTH and calcitonin secretion are stimulated by different signaling pathways, and therefore it might be possible to develop a CaSR activating drug that selectively activates signaling pathways that inhibit PTH secretion while having no effect on signaling pathways involved in calcitonin secretion. Such a drug would have the same therapeutic value as cinacalcet in lowering PTH secretion while eliminating the side effect of hypocalcemia by virtue of it not affecting calcitonin secretion. The present review will focus on recent advancements in understanding signaling and biased signaling of the CaSR, and how that may be utilized to discover new and smarter drugs targeting the CaSR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1324-1335
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Drug Targets
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2012


  • Biased signaling
  • Calcitonin
  • Calcium-sensing receptor
  • Cinacalcet
  • Parathyroid hormone
  • Signaling pathway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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