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Pflugers Arch. 2014 Sep;466(9):1725-33. doi: 10.1007/s00424-013-1403-0. Epub 2013 Nov 30.

Bile acids increase the activity of the epithelial Na+ channel.

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Institute of Physiology, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstrasse 30, 52074, Aachen, Germany,


The epithelial Na(+) channel (ENaC) is a key regulator of Na(+) absorption in various epithelia including the distal nephron and the distal colon. ENaC is a constitutively active channel, but its activity is modulated by a number of mechanisms. These include proteolytic activation, ubiquitination and cell surface expression, phosphorylation, intracellular Na(+) concentration, and shear stress. ENaC is related to the bile acid-sensitive ion channel (BASIC), a channel that is expressed in the epithelial cells of bile ducts. BASIC is activated by millimolar concentrations of extracellular bile acids. Bile acids are synthesized by the liver and secreted into the duodenum to aid lipolysis. A large fraction of the secreted bile acids is absorbed by the ileum and recirculated into the liver, but a small fraction passes the colon and is excreted. Bile acids can influence the ion transport processes in the intestinal tract including the colon. In this study, we show that various bile acids present in rat bile potently and reversibly increase the activity of rat ENaC expressed in Xenopus oocytes, suggesting that bile acids are natural modulators of ENaC activity.

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