Altered bile acid (BA) signaling is associated with hepatotoxicity. The farnesoid X receptor (FXR) is a nuclear receptor that transcriptionally regulates BA homeostasis. Mice with FXR ablation present hepatocarcinoma (HCC) due to high toxic BA levels. Mice with Abcb4 ablation accumulate toxic BA within the bile ducts and present HCC. We have previously shown that intestinal specific activation of FXR by transgenic VP16-FXR chimera is able to reduce BA pool size and prevent HCC. Here we tested chemical FXR activation by administering for 15 months the dual FXR/ membrane G protein-coupled receptor (TGR5) agonist INT-767 (6α-ethyl-3α,7α,23-trihydroxy-24-nor-5β-cholan-23-sulphate) to Fxr-/- and Abcb4-/- mice. HCC number and size were significantly reduced by INT-767 administration. In contrast, no changes in HCC tumor number and size were observed in Fxr-/- mice fed with or without INT-767. Notably, INT-767 preserved the hepatic parenchyma, improved hepatic function and down-regulated pro-inflammatory cytokines. Moreover, in Abcb4-/- mice INT-767 prevented fibrosis by reducing collagen expression and deposition. Thus, long term activation of FXR is able to reduce BA pool, reprogram BA metabolism and prevent HCC. These data provide the impetus to address the bona fide therapeutic potential of FXR activation in disease with BA-associated development of HCC.
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