Calcimimetic and Calcilytic Drugs: Feats, Flops, and Futures

Calcif Tissue Int. 2016 Apr;98(4):341-58. doi: 10.1007/s00223-015-0052-z. Epub 2015 Aug 30.


The actions of extracellular Ca(2+) in regulating parathyroid gland and kidney functions are mediated by the extracellular calcium receptor (CaR), a G protein-coupled receptor. The CaR is one of the essential molecules maintaining systemic Ca(2+) homeostasis and is a molecular target for drugs useful in treating bone and mineral disorders. Ligands that activate the CaR are termed calcimimetics and are classified as either agonists (type I) or positive allosteric modulators (type II); calcimimetics inhibit the secretion of parathyroid hormone (PTH). Cinacalcet is a type II calcimimetic that is used to treat secondary hyperparathyroidism in patients receiving dialysis and to treat hypercalcemia in some forms of primary hyperparathyroidism. The use of cinacalcet among patients with secondary hyperparathyroidism who are managed with dialysis effectively lowers circulating PTH levels, reduces serum phosphorus and FGF23 concentrations, improves bone histopathology, and may diminish skeletal fracture rates and the need for parathyroidectomy. A second generation type II calcimimetic (AMG 416) is currently under regulatory review. Calcilytics are CaR antagonists that stimulate the secretion of PTH. Several calcilytic compounds have been evaluated as orally active anabolic therapies for postmenopausal osteoporosis but clinical development of all of them has been abandoned because they lacked clinical efficacy. Calcilytics might be repurposed for new indications like autosomal dominant hypocalcemia or other disorders beyond those involving systemic Ca(2+) homeostasis.

Keywords: Autosomal dominant hypocalcemia; Calcilytic; Calcimimetic; Calcium-sensing receptor; Cinacalcet; Hyperparathyroidism; Osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcimimetic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Hypercalcemia / drug therapy
  • Hyperparathyroidism / drug therapy
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing / agonists*
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Calcimimetic Agents
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing