Intestinal Farnesoid X Receptor Controls Transintestinal Cholesterol Excretion in Mice

Jan Freark Boer, de, Marleen Schonewille, Marije Boesjes, Henk Wolters, Vincent W Bloks, Trijnie Bos, Theo H van Dijk, Angelika Jurdzinski, Renze Boverhof, Justina C Wolters, Jan A Kuivenhoven, Jan M. van Deursen, Ronald P J Oude Elferink, Antonio Moschetta, Claus Kremoser, Henkjan J Verkade, Folkert Kuipers, Albert K Groen

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BACKGROUND & AIMS: The role of the intestine in the maintenance of cholesterol homeostasis is increasingly recognized. Fecal excretion of cholesterol is the last step in the atheroprotective reverse cholesterol transport pathway, to which biliary and transintestinal cholesterol excretion (TICE) contribute. The mechanisms controlling the flux of cholesterol through the TICE pathway are, however, poorly understood. We aimed to identify mechanisms that regulate and stimulate TICE.

METHODS: We performed studies with C57Bl/6J mice, as well as mice with intestine-specific knockout of the farnesoid X receptor (FXR), mice that express an FXR transgene specifically in the intestine, and ABCG8-knockout mice. Mice were fed a control diet or a diet supplemented with the FXR agonist PX20606, with or without the cholesterol absorption inhibitor ezetimibe. Some mice with intestine-specific knockout of FXR were given daily injections of fibroblast growth factor (FGF)19. To determine fractional cholesterol absorption, mice were given intravenous injections of cholesterol-D5 and oral cholesterol-D7. Mice were given (13)C-acetate in drinking water for measurement of cholesterol synthesis. Bile cannulations were performed and biliary cholesterol secretion rates were assessed. In a separate set of experiments, bile ducts of male Wistar rats were exteriorized, allowing replacement of endogenous bile by a model bile.

RESULTS: In mice, we found TICE to be regulated by intestinal FXR, via induction of its target gene Fgf15 (in mouse; FGF19 in rat and human). Stimulation of this pathway caused mice to excrete up to 60% of their total cholesterol content each day. PX20606 and FGF19 each increased the ratio of muricholate:cholate in bile, inducing a more hydrophilic bile salt pool. The altered bile salt pool stimulated robust secretion of cholesterol into the intestinal lumen via the sterol-exporting heterodimer ATP binding cassette subfamily G member 5/8 (ABCG5/G8). Of note, the increase in TICE induced by PX20206 was independent of changes in cholesterol absorption.

CONCLUSIONS: Hydrophilicity of the bile salt pool, controlled by FXR and FGF15/19, is an important determinant of cholesterol removal via TICE. Strategies that alter bile salt pool composition might be developed for prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1126-1138
Number of pages13
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2017


  • RCT
  • TICE
  • Metabolism
  • ABCG5/G8
  • Bile Salts

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