Interpretive Handbook

Test 34671 :
Calcium Sensing Receptor (CASR) Gene, Full Gene Analysis

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

The extracellular G-protein-coupled calcium sensing receptor (CASR) is an essential component of calcium homeostasis. CASR is expressed at particularly high levels in the parathyroid glands and kidneys. It forms stable homodimeric cell-membrane complexes, which signal upon binding of extracellular calcium ions (Ca[++]). In the parathyroid glands, this results in downregulation of gene expression of the main short-term regulator of calcium homeostasis, parathyroid hormone (PTH), as well as diminished secretion of already synthesized PTH. At the same time, renal calcium excretion is upregulated and sodium chloride excretion is downregulated. Ca(++) binding to CASR is highly cooperative within the physiological Ca(++) concentration range, leading to a steep dose-response curve, which results in tight control of serum calcium levels.


To date, over 100 different alterations in the CASR gene have been described. Many of these cause diseases of abnormal serum calcium regulation. Inactivating mutations result in undersensing of Ca(++) concentrations and consequent PTH overproduction and secretion. This leads to either familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia (FHH) or neonatal severe primary hyperparathyroidism (NSPHT), depending on the severity of the functional impairment.


Except for a very small percentage of cases with no apparent CASR mutations, FHH is due to heterozygous inactivating CASR mutations. Serum calcium levels are mildly-to-moderately elevated. PTH is within the reference range or modestly elevated, phosphate is normal or slightly low, and urinary calcium excretion is low for the degree of hypercalcemia. Unlike patients with primary hyperparathyroidism (PHT), which can be difficult to distinguish from FHH, the majority of FHH patients do not seem to suffer any adverse long-term effects from hypercalcemia and elevated PTH levels. They should therefore generally not undergo parathyroidectomy.


NSPHT is usually due to homozygous or compound heterozygous inactivating CASR mutations, but can occasionally be caused by dominant-negative heterozygous mutations. The condition presents at birth, or shortly thereafter, with severe hypercalcemia requiring urgent parathyroidectomy.


Activating mutations lead to oversensing of Ca(++), resulting in suppression of PTH secretion and consequently hypoparathyroidism. All activating mutations described are functionally dominant and disease inheritance is therefore autosomal dominant. However, sporadic cases also occur. Autosomal dominant hypoparathyroidism may account for many cases of idiopathic hypoparathyroidism. Disease severity depends on the degree of gain of function, spanning the spectrum from mild hypoparathyroidism, which is diagnosed incidentally, to severe and early onset disease. In addition, while the majority of patients suffer only from hypoparathyroidism, a small subgroup with extreme gain of function mutations suffer from concomitant inhibition of renal sodium chloride transport. These individuals may present with additional symptoms of hypokalemic metabolic alkalosis, hyperreninemia, hyperaldosteronism, and hypomagnesemia, consistent with type V Bartter syndrome.

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Confirming or ruling out a suspected diagnosis of familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia


As part of the workup of some patients with primary hyperparathyroidism


Confirming or ruling out a suspected diagnosis of neonatal severe primary hyperparathyroidism


Confirming or ruling out a suspected diagnosis of autosomal dominant hypoparathyroidism


As part of the workup of idiopathic hypoparathyroidism


As part of the workup of patients with Bartter syndrome

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

All detected alterations will be evaluated according to American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) recommendations.(1) Variants will be classified based on known, predicted, or possible pathogenicity and reported with interpretive comments detailing their potential or known significance.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

A small percentage of individuals who are carriers or have a diagnosis of familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia (FHH) or neonatal severe primary hyperparathyroidism (NSPHT) may have a mutation that is not identified by this method (eg, large genomic deletions, promoter mutations). The absence of a mutation, therefore, does not eliminate the possibility of positive carrier status or the diagnosis of FHH or NSPHT. For carrier testing, it is important to first document the presence of a CASR gene mutation in an affected family member.


In some cases, DNA alterations of undetermined significance may be identified.


Rare polymorphisms exist that could lead to false-negative or false-positive results. If results obtained do not match the clinical findings, additional testing should be considered.


A previous bone marrow transplant from an allogenic donor will interfere with testing. Call Mayo Medical Laboratories for instructions for testing patients who have received a bone marrow transplant.   


Test results should be interpreted in the context of clinical findings, family history, and other laboratory data. Errors in our interpretation of results may occur if information given is inaccurate or incomplete.


Very rarely, patients with typical biochemical findings of FHH, with or without a supporting family history, will have no CASR mutations. In 2 such families, linkage to chromosome 19 has been established, suggesting that a small percentage of FHH cases are caused by mutations in other genes, possibly related to CASR downstream signaling.


Up to 20% of patients with clinically typical autosomal dominant hypoparathyroidism may also lack demonstrable CASR mutations.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

An interpretive report will be provided

Clinical References Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Richards CS, Bale S, Bellissimo DB, et al: ACMG recommendations for standards for interpretation and reporting of sequence variations: Revisions 2007. Genet Med 2008 Apr;10(4):294-300

2. Hendy GN, D'Souza-Li L, Yang B, et al: Mutations of the calcium-sensing receptor (CASR) in familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia, neonatal severe hypocalciuric hyperparathyroidism, and autosomal dominant hypocalcemia. Hum Mutat 2000 Oct;16(4):281-296. The authors maintain a CASR polymorphism/mutation database:

3. Lienhardt A, Bai M, Lgarde JP, et al: Activating mutations of the calcium-sensing receptor: management of hypocalcemia. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2001 Nov;86(1):5313-5323

4. Hu J, Spiegel AM: Naturally occurring mutations of the extracellular Ca2+ -sensing receptor: implications for its structure and function. Trends Endocrinol Metab 2003 Aug;14(6):282-288

5. Naesens M, Steels P, Verberckmoes R, et al: Bartter's and Gitelman's syndromes: from gene to clinic. Nephron Physiol 2004;96(3):65-78

6. Egbuna OI, Brown EM: Hypercalcaemic and hypocalcaemic conditions due to calcium-sensing receptor mutations. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol 2008;22:129-148