Recent developments in constitutive receptor activity and inverse agonism, and their potential for GPCR drug discovery

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2006 Feb;27(2):92-6. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2006 Jan 6.


The concept of constitutively active G-protein-coupled receptors is now firmly rooted in receptor pharmacology. Many independent research groups have contributed to its acceptance since its introduction by Costa and Herz in 1989. This concept necessitated a revised ligand classification, and a new category of inverse agonists was introduced alongside existing agonist and antagonist ligands. Initially, it was hoped that new therapeutic modalities would become available. However, the drug industry has not adopted inverse agonism as a design criterion and instead accepted that some compounds emerge as (neutral) antagonists in compound screening, whereas other compounds possess inverse agonistic activity. In this article, we summarize aspects of the impact of constitutive activity on the drug-discovery process: for example, its use in orphan receptor assays, its link with pharmacogenetics and genomics, and its relevance for currently marketed drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / pharmacology
  • Autoantibodies / drug effects
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • Mutation / physiology
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / agonists*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / immunology


  • Antibodies
  • Autoantibodies
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled