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Cell Metab. 2011 Dec 7;14(6):747-57. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2011.11.006.

TGR5 activation inhibits atherosclerosis by reducing macrophage inflammation and lipid loading.

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Laboratory of Integrative and Systems Physiology, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.


The G protein-coupled receptor TGR5 has been identified as an important component of the bile acid signaling network, and its activation has been linked to enhanced energy expenditure and improved glycemic control. Here, we demonstrate that activation of TGR5 in macrophages by 6α-ethyl-23(S)-methylcholic acid (6-EMCA, INT-777), a semisynthetic BA, inhibits proinflammatory cytokine production, an effect mediated by TGR5-induced cAMP signaling and subsequent NF-κB inhibition. TGR5 activation attenuated atherosclerosis in Ldlr(-/-)Tgr5(+/+) mice but not in Ldlr(-/-)Tgr5(-/-) double-knockout mice. The inhibition of lesion formation was associated with decreased intraplaque inflammation and less plaque macrophage content. Furthermore, Ldlr(-/-) animals transplanted with Tgr5(-/-) bone marrow did not show an inhibition of atherosclerosis by INT-777, further establishing an important role of leukocytes in INT-777-mediated inhibition of vascular lesion formation. Taken together, these data attribute a significant immune modulating function to TGR5 activation in the prevention of atherosclerosis, an important facet of the metabolic syndrome.

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