Molecular medicine has led to rapid advances in the characterization of hepatobiliary transport systems that determine the uptake and excretion of bile salts and other biliary constituents in the liver and extrahepatic tissues. The bile salt pool undergoes an enterohepatic circulation that is regulated by distinct bile salt transport proteins, including the canalicular bile salt export pump BSEP (ABCB11), the ileal Na(+)-dependent bile salt transporter ISBT (SLC10A2), and the hepatic sinusoidal Na(+)- taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide NTCP (SLC10A1). Other bile salt transporters include the organic anion transporting polypeptides OATPs (SLC21A) and the multidrug resistance-associated proteins 2 and 3 MRP2,3 (ABCC2,3). Bile salt transporters are also present in cholangiocytes, the renal proximal tubule, and the placenta. Expression of these transport proteins is regulated by both transcriptional and posttranscriptional events, with the former involving nuclear hormone receptors where bile salts function as specific ligands. During bile secretory failure (cholestasis), bile salt transport proteins undergo adaptive responses that serve to protect the liver from bile salt retention and which facilitate extrahepatic routes of bile salt excretion. This review is a comprehensive summary of current knowledge of the molecular characterization, function, and regulation of bile salt transporters in normal physiology and in cholestatic liver disease and liver regeneration.
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are nuclear hormone receptors that regulate genes involved in energy metabolism and inflammation. For biological activity, PPARs require cognate lipid ligands, heterodimerization with retinoic × receptors, and coactivation by PPAR-γ coactivator-1α or PPAR-γ coactivator-1β (PGC-1α or PGC-1β, encoded by Ppargc1a and Ppargc1b, respectively). Here we show that lipolysis of cellular triglycerides by adipose triglyceride lipase (patatin-like phospholipase domain containing protein 2, encoded by Pnpla2; hereafter referred to as Atgl) generates essential mediator(s) involved in the generation of lipid ligands for PPAR activation. Atgl deficiency in mice decreases mRNA levels of PPAR-α and PPAR-δ target genes. In the heart, this leads to decreased PGC-1α and PGC-1β expression and severely disrupted mitochondrial substrate oxidation and respiration; this is followed by excessive lipid accumulation, cardiac insufficiency and lethal cardiomyopathy. Reconstituting normal PPAR target gene expression by pharmacological treatment of Atgl-deficient mice with PPAR-α agonists completely reverses the mitochondrial defects, restores normal heart function and prevents premature death. These findings reveal a potential treatment for the excessive cardiac lipid accumulation and often-lethal cardiomyopathy in people with neutral lipid storage disease, a disease marked by reduced or absent ATGL activity.
It is widely known that the liver is a central organ in lipogenesis, gluconeogenesis and cholesterol metabolism. However, over the last decades, a variety of pathological conditions highlighted the importance of metabolic functions within the diseased liver. As observed in Western societies, an increase in the prevalence of obesity and the metabolic syndrome promotes pathophysiological changes that cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD increases the susceptibility of the liver to acute liver injury and may lead to cirrhosis and hepatocellular cancer. Alterations in insulin response, β-oxidation, lipid storage and transport, autophagy and an imbalance in chemokines and nuclear receptor signaling are held accountable for these changes. Furthermore, recent studies revealed a role for lipid accumulation in inflammation and ER stress in the clinical context of liver regeneration and hepatic carcinogenesis. This review focuses on novel findings related to nuclear receptor signaling - including the vitamin D receptor and the liver receptor homolog 1 - in hepatic lipid and glucose uptake, storage and metabolism in the clinical context of NAFLD, liver regeneration, and cancer.
The intracellular nuclear receptor farnesoid X receptor and the transmembrane G protein-coupled receptor TGR5 respond to bile acids by activating transcriptional networks and/or signalling cascades. These cascades affect the expression of a great number of target genes relevant for bile acid, cholesterol, lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, as well as genes involved in inflammation, fibrosis and carcinogenesis. Pregnane X receptor, vitamin D receptor and constitutive androstane receptor are additional nuclear receptors that respond to bile acids, albeit to a more restricted set of species of bile acids. Recognition of dedicated bile acid receptors prompted the development of semi-synthetic bile acid analogues and nonsteroidal compounds that target these receptors. These agents hold promise to become a new class of drugs for the treatment of chronic liver disease, hepatocellular cancer and extrahepatic inflammatory and metabolic diseases. This Review discusses the relevant bile acid receptors, the new drugs that target bile acid signalling and their possible applications.
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