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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jan 24;278(4):2563-70. Epub 2002 Nov 5.

The farnesoid X-receptor is an essential regulator of cholesterol homeostasis.

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Molecular Disease Branch, NHLBI, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


To address the importance of the farnesoid X-receptor (FXR; NR1H4) for normal cholesterol homeostasis, we evaluated the major pathways of cholesterol metabolism in the FXR-deficient (-/-) mouse model. Compared with wild-type, FXR(-/-) mice have increased plasma high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and a markedly reduced rate of plasma HDL cholesterol ester clearance. Concomitantly, FXR(-/-) mice exhibit reduced expression of hepatic genes involved in reverse cholesterol transport, most notably, that for scavenger receptor BI. FXR(-/-) mice also have increased: (i) plasma non-HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, (ii) apolipoprotein B-containing lipoprotein synthesis, and (iii) intestinal cholesterol absorption. Surprisingly, biliary cholesterol elimination was increased in FXR(-/-) mice, despite decreased expression of hepatic genes thought to be involved in this process. These data demonstrate that FXR is a critical regulator of normal cholesterol metabolism and that genetic changes affecting FXR function have the potential to be pro-atherogenic.

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