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J Biol Chem. 2001 Oct 19;276(42):39411-8. Epub 2001 Aug 16.

Disrupted bile acid homeostasis reveals an unexpected interaction among nuclear hormone receptors, transporters, and cytochrome P450.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38105, USA.


Sister of P-glycoprotein (SPGP) is the major hepatic bile salt export pump (BSEP). BSEP/SPGP expression varies dramatically among human livers. The potency and hierarchy of bile acids as ligands for the farnesyl/bile acid receptor (FXR/BAR) paralleled their ability to induce BSEP in human hepatocyte cultures. FXR:RXR heterodimers bound to IR1 elements and enhanced bile acid transcriptional activation of the mouse and human BSEP/SPGP promoters. In FXR/BAR nullizygous mice, which have dramatically reduced BSEP/SPGP levels, hepatic CYP3A11 and CYP2B10 were strongly but unexpectedly induced. Notably, the rank order of bile acids as CYP3A4 inducers and activators of pregnane X receptor/steroid and xenobiotic receptor (PXR/SXR) closely paralleled each other but was markedly different from their hierarchy and potency as inducers of BSEP in human hepatocytes. Moreover, the hepatoprotective bile acid ursodeoxycholic acid, which reverses hydrophobic bile acid hepatotoxicity, activates PXR and efficaciously induces CYP3A4 (a bile-metabolizing enzyme) in primary human hepatocytes thus providing one mechanism for its hepatoprotection. Because serum and urinary bile acids increased in FXR/BAR -/- mice, we evaluated hepatic transporters for compensatory changes that might circumvent the profound decrease in BSEP/SPGP. We found weak MRP3 up-regulation. In contrast, MRP4 was substantially increased in the FXR/BAR nullizygous mice and was further elevated by cholic acid. Thus, enhanced hepatocellular concentrations of bile acids, due to the down-regulation of BSEP/SPGP-mediated efflux in FXR nullizygous mice, result in an alternate but apparent compensatory up-regulation of CYP3A, CYP2B, and some ABC transporters that is consistent with activation of PXR/SXR by bile acids.

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