Conjugated secondary 12α-hydroxylated bile acids promote liver fibrogenesis

Guoxiang Xie, Runqiu Jiang, Xiaoning Wang, Ping Liu, Aihua Zhao, Yiran Wu, Fengjie Huang, Zhipeng Liu, Cynthia Rajani, Xiaojiao Zheng, Jiannan Qiu, Xiaoling Zhang, Suwen Zhao, Hua Bian, Xin Gao, Beicheng Sun, Wei Jia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Significantly elevated serum and hepatic bile acid (BA) concentrations have been known to occur in patients with liver fibrosis. However, the roles of different BA species in liver fibrogenesis are not fully understood. Methods: We quantitatively measured blood BA concentrations in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) patients with liver fibrosis and healthy controls. We characterized BA composition in three mouse models induced by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), streptozotocin-high fat diet (STZ-HFD), and long term HFD, respectively. The molecular mechanisms underlying the fibrosis-promoting effects of BAs were investigated in cell line models, a 3D co-culture system, and a Tgr5 (HSC-specific) KO mouse model. Findings: We found that a group of conjugated 12α-hydroxylated (12α-OH) BAs, such as taurodeoxycholate (TDCA) and glycodeoxycholate (GDCA), significantly increased in NASH patients and liver fibrosis mouse models. 12α-OH BAs significantly increased HSC proliferation and protein expression of fibrosis-related markers. Administration of TDCA and GDCA directly activated HSCs and promoted liver fibrogenesis in mouse models. Blockade of BA binding to TGR5 or inhibition of ERK1/2 and p38 MAPK signaling both significantly attenuated the BA-induced fibrogenesis. Liver fibrosis was attenuated in mice with Tgr5 depletion. Interpretation: Increased hepatic concentrations of conjugated 12α-OH BAs significantly contributed to liver fibrosis via TGR5 mediated p38MAPK and ERK1/2 signaling. Strategies to antagonize TGR5 or inhibit ERK1/2 and p38 MAPK signaling may effectively prevent or reverse liver fibrosis. Fundings: This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute Grant 1U01CA188387-01A1, the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFC0906800); the State Key Program of National Natural Science Foundation (81430062); the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81974073, 81774196), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation funded project, China (2016T90381), and E-institutes of Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, China (E03008).

Original languageEnglish
Article number103290
Number of pages15
Early online date20 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • 12α-hydroxylated bile acids
  • ERK1/2
  • G protein-coupled bile acid receptor
  • Hepatic stellate cell
  • Liver fibrosis
  • p38MAPK
  • TGR5


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