MINIREVIEW Agonists and Allosteric Modulators of the Calcium-Sensing Receptor and Their Therapeutic Applications
Liver cells respond to changes in Ca(2+)(o). The hepatic functions affected include bile secretion, metabolic activity, liver regeneration, and the response to xenobiotics. In the present study, we demonstrate the presence, in the liver, of the extracellular calcium-sensing receptor (CASR), described previously in the parathyroid and thyroid glands and kidney. CASR mRNA was specifically expressed in hepatocytes and was absent in nonparenchymal liver cells (stellate, endothelial, and Kupffer cells). Western blot analysis using a specific CASR antibody showed staining in both whole liver and hepatocyte extracts. Immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization of rat liver sections showed expression of CASR protein and mRNA by a subset of hepatocytes. The known agonists of the CASR, gadolinium (Gd(3+); 0.5-3.0 mm) and spermine (1.25-20 mm), in the absence of Ca(2+)(o), elicited dose-related increases in Ca(2+)(i) in isolated rat hepatocytes loaded with Fura-2/acetoxymethyl ester. There was a greatly attenuated response to a second challenge with either agonist. The response was also abrogated when inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP(3))-sensitive calcium pools had been depleted by pretreatment with either thapsigargin or phenylephrine, an alpha(1)-adrenergic receptor agonist known to mobilize Ca(2+)(i) from IP(3)-sensitive pools. Addition of the deschloro-phenylalkylamine compound, NPS R-467, but not the S enantiomer, NPS S-467, increased the sensitivity of the Ca(2+)(i) mobilization response to 1.25 mm spermine. Bile flow ceased after Ca(2+)(o) withdrawal, and its recovery was enhanced by spermine in isolated perfused liver preparations. The CASR agonists Ca(2+) and Gd(3+) increased bile flow, and the response to a submaximal Ca(2+) concentration was enhanced by NPS R-467 but not the S compound. Thus, the data indicate that rat hepatocytes harbor a CASR capable of mobilizing Ca(2+)(i) from IP(3)-sensitive stores and that activation of the CASR stimulates bile flow.