Background & Aims: Glucocorticoids, produced by the adrenal gland under control of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, exert their metabolic actions largely via activation of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). Synthetic glucocorticoids are widely used as anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs but their application is hampered by adverse metabolic effects. Recently, it has been shown that GR may regulate several genes involved in murine bile acid (BA) and cholesterol metabolism, yet the physiological relevance hereof is controversial. The aim of this study is to provide a mechanistic basis for effects of prednisolone on BA and cholesterol homeostasis in mice.
Methods: Male BALB/c mice were treated with prednisolone (12.5 mg/kg/day) for 7 days by subcutaneous implantation of slow-release pellets, followed by extensive metabolic profiling.
Results: Sustained prednisolone treatment induced the expression of the apical sodium-dependent bile acid transporter (Asbt) in the ileum, which stimulated BA absorption. This resulted in elevated plasma BA levels and enhanced biliary BA secretion. Concomitantly, both biliary cholesterol and phospholipid secretion rates were increased. Enhanced BA reabsorption suppressed hepatic BA synthesis, as evident from hepatic gene expression, reduced plasma C4 levels and reduced fecal BA loss. Plasma HDL cholesterol levels were elevated in prednisolone-treated mice, which likely contributed to the stimulated flux of cholesterol from intraperitoneally injected macrophage foam cells into feces.
Conclusions: Sustained prednisolone treatment increases entero-hepatic recycling of BA, leading to elevated plasma levels and reduced synthesis in the absence of cholestasis. Under these conditions, prednisolone promotes macrophage-derived reverse cholesterol transport. (C) 2014 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.