Biased and allosteric modulation of bone cell-expressing G protein-coupled receptors as a novel approach to osteoporosis therapy

Alexander Kalinkovich, Gregory Livshits*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


On the cellular level, osteoporosis (OP) is a result of imbalanced bone remodeling, in which osteoclastic bone resorption outcompetes osteoblastic bone formation. Currently available OP medications include both antiresorptive and bone-forming drugs. However, their long-term use in OP patients, mainly in postmenopausal women, is accompanied by severe side effects. Notably, the fundamental coupling between bone resorption and formation processes underlies the existence of an undesirable secondary outcome that bone anabolic or anti-resorptive drugs also reduce bone formation. This drawback requires the development of anti-OP drugs capable of selectively stimulating osteoblastogenesis and concomitantly reducing osteoclastogenesis. We propose that the application of small synthetic biased and allosteric modulators of bone cell receptors, which belong to the G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR) family, could be the key to resolving the undesired anti-OP drug selectivity. This approach is based on the capacity of these GPCR modulators, unlike the natural ligands, to trigger signaling pathways that promote beneficial effects on bone remodeling while blocking potentially deleterious effects. Under the settings of OP, an optimal anti-OP drug should provide fine-tuned regulation of downstream effects, for example, intermittent cyclic AMP (cAMP) elevation, preservation of Ca2+ balance, stimulation of osteoprotegerin (OPG) and estrogen production, suppression of sclerostin secretion, and/or preserved/enhanced canonical β-catenin/Wnt signaling pathway. As such, selective modulation of GPCRs involved in bone remodeling presents a promising approach in OP treatment. This review focuses on the evidence for the validity of our hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105794
JournalPharmacological Research
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Allosteric agonism
  • Biased agonism
  • Bone remodeling
  • GPCR
  • Osteoporosis


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