Ursodeoxycholic acid accelerates bile acid enterohepatic circulation

Yunjing Zhang, Runqiu Jiang, Xiaojiao Zheng, Sha Lei, Fengjie Huang, Guoxiang Xie, Sandi Kwee, Herbert Yu, Christine Farrar, Beicheng Sun, Aihua Zhao, Wei Jia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Background and purpose: Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is the first-line treatment for primary biliary cholangitis, but its effects on the enterohepatic circulation of bile acid (BA) have been under-investigated. Therefore, we studied the influence of UDCA on BA enterohepatic circulation in vivo and the mechanisms by which UDCA affects the BA kinetics.

Experimental approach: Mice were treated with UDCA and other BAs to observe changes in BA pool and BA transporters involved in enterohepatic circulation. Isotope dilution techniques and biochemical analyses were applied to study BA kinetics after oral administration of UDCA, and the mechanism involved.

Key results: Oral administration of UDCA in mice reduced the overall BA pool and produced a unique BA profile with high-abundance conjugated UDCA species, including tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) and GUDCA. We found increased expression of several main BA transporters in the ileum and liver. BA kinetic experiment showed that feeding UDCA shortened cycling time of BA and accelerated BA enterohepatic circulation. Additionally, we found evidence that the effect of UDCA administration on accelerating BA enterohepatic circulation was due to the inhibition of farnesoid X receptor (FXR) signalling in the ileum and FGF15/19 in the liver.

Conclusion and implications: Oral administration of UDCA produced a unique BA profile with high-abundance TUDCA and GUDCA and significantly accelerated BA enterohepatic circulation through the inhibition of intestinal FXR signalling and reduced level of FGF15/19, which in turn, induced the expression of BA transporters in the liver. These findings highlight a critical role for UDCA in maintaining the homeostasis of BA enterohepatic circulation in vivo.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2848-2863
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


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