Low retinol levels differentially modulate bile salt-induced expression of human and mouse hepatic bile salt transporters

Martijn O Hoeke, Jacqueline R M Plass, Janette Heegsma, Mariska Geuken, Duncan van Rijsbergen, Julius F W Baller, Folkert Kuipers, Han Moshage, Peter L M Jansen, Klaas Nico Faber
Hepatology: Official Journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases 2009, 49 (1): 151-9

UNLABELLED: The farnesoid X receptor/retinoid X receptor-alpha (FXR/RXRalpha) complex regulates bile salt homeostasis, in part by modulating transcription of the bile salt export pump (BSEP/ABCB11) and small heterodimer partner (SHP/NR0B2). FXR is activated by bile salts, RXRalpha by the vitamin A derivative 9-cis retinoic acid (9cRA). Cholestasis is associated with vitamin A malabsorption. Therefore, we evaluated the role of vitamin A/9cRA in the expression of human and mouse bile salt export pump (hBSEP/mBsep), small heterodimer partner (hSHP/mShp), and mouse sodium-dependent taurocholate co-transporting polypeptide (mNtcp). HBSEP and hSHP transcription were analyzed in FXR/RXRalpha-transfected HepG2 cells exposed to chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA) and/or 9cRA. BSEP promoter activity was determined by luciferase reporter assays, DNA-binding of FXR and RXRalpha by pull-down assays. Serum bile salt levels and hepatic expression of Bsep, Shp, and Ntcp were determined in vitamin A-deficient (VAD)/cholic acid (CA)-fed C57BL/6J mice. Results indicated that 9cRA strongly repressed the CDCA-induced BSEP transcription in HepG2 cells, whereas it super-induced SHP transcription; 9cRA reduced DNA-binding of FXR and RXRalpha. The 9cRA repressed the CDCA-induced BSEP promoter activity irrespective of the exact sequence of the FXR-binding site. In vivo, highest Bsep messenger RNA (mRNA), and protein expression was observed in CA-fed VAD mice. Shp transcription was highest in CA-fed vitamin A-sufficient mice. Ntcp protein expression was strongly reduced in CA-fed VAD mice, whereas mRNA levels were normal. CA-fed control and VAD mice had similarly increased serum bile salt levels.

CONCLUSION: We showed that 9cRA has opposite effects on bile salt-activated transcription of FXR/RXRalpha target genes. Vitamin A deficiency in CA-fed mice leads to high BSEP expression. Clearance of serum bile salts may, however, be limited because of post-transcriptional reduction of Ntcp. The molecular effects of vitamin A supplementation during cholestasis need further analysis to predict a therapeutic effect.

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