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J Hepatol. 2011 Oct;55(4):939-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2011.04.013. Epub 2011 May 11.

New insights on the pathogenesis of biliary cirrhosis provided by studies in FXR knockout mice.

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Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, University of Arkansas for the Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.


The nuclear bile acid receptor, farnesoid X receptor (FXR), may play a pivotal role in liver fibrosis. We tested the impact of genetic FXR ablation in four different mouse models. Hepatic fibrosis was induced in wild-type and FXR knock-out mice (FXR((-/-))) by CCl(4) intoxication, 3,5-diethoxycarbonyl-1,4-dihydrocollidine feeding, common bile duct ligation, or Schistosoma mansoni (S.m.)-infection. In addition, we determined nuclear receptor expression levels (FXR, pregnane X receptor (PXR), vitamin D receptor, constitutive androstane receptor (CAR), small heterodimer partner (SHP)) in mouse hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), portal myofibroblasts (MFBs), and human HSCs. Cell type-specific FXR protein expression was determined by immunohistochemistry in five mouse models and prototypic human fibrotic liver diseases. Expression of nuclear receptors was much lower in mouse and human HSCs/MFBs compared with total liver expression with the exception of vitamin D receptor. FXR protein was undetectable in mouse and human HSCs and MFBs. FXR loss had no effect in CCl(4)-intoxicated and S.m.-infected mice, but significantly decreased liver fibrosis of the biliary type (common bile duct ligation, 3,5-diethoxycarbonyl-1,4-dihydrocollidine). These data suggest that FXR loss significantly reduces fibrosis of the biliary type, but has no impact on non-cholestatic liver fibrosis. Since there is no FXR expression in HSCs and MFBs in liver fibrosis, our data indicate that these cells may not represent direct therapeutic targets for FXR ligands.

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