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J Hepatol. 2008 Feb;48(2):192-9. Epub 2007 Dec 3.

Enhancement of genotype 1 hepatitis C virus replication by bile acids through FXR.

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INSERM U851, IFR 128 BioSciences Lyon Gerland, Lyon F-69007, France.



Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infected patients with high serum levels of bile acids (BAs) usually fail to respond to antiviral therapy. Besides, BAs are essential factors for replication of the porcine enteric calicivirus by inhibiting interferon signaling. The role of BAs on HCV RNA replication was thus assessed.


BAs and other compounds were tested using an HCV-replication model containing a luciferase reporter gene.


BAs, especially chenodeoxycholate and deoxycholate, up-regulated genotype 1 HCV RNA replication by more than tenfold. Only free but not conjugated BAs were active, suggesting that their effect was mediated by a nuclear receptor. Only farnesoid X receptor (FXR) ligands stimulated HCV replication while FXR silencing and FXR antagonism by guggulsterone blocked the up-regulation induced by BAs. Furthermore, guggulsterone alone inhibited basal level of HCV replication by tenfold. Modulation of HCV replication by FXR ligands occurred in the same proportion in presence or absence of type I interferon, suggesting a mechanism of action independent of this control of viral replication. However, BAs or guggulsterone did not affect replication of genotype 2a-JFH1.


Exposure to routinely measured concentrations of BAs increases HCV replication by a novel mechanism involving activation of the nuclear receptor FXR.

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