Background & aims: The mechanisms by which mutations in the familial intrahepatic cholestasis-1 gene cause Byler's disease (progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis type 1) are unknown.
Methods: Interactions among the apical sodium-dependent bile acid transporter, the farnesoid X receptor (FXR), and familial intrahepatic cholestasis-1 were studied in the ileum of children with progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis type 1 and in Caco-2 cells.
Results: Increased ileal apical sodium-dependent bile acid transporter messenger RNA (mRNA) expression was detected in 3 patients with progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis type 1. Paradoxically, ileal lipid-binding protein mRNA expression was repressed, suggesting a central defect in bile acid response. Ileal FXR and short heterodimer partner mRNA levels were reduced in the same 3 patients. In Caco-2 cells, antisense-mediated knock-down of endogenous familial intrahepatic cholestasis-1 led to up-regulation of apical sodium-dependent bile acid transporter and down-regulation of FXR, ileal lipid-binding protein, and short heterodimer partner mRNA. In familial intrahepatic cholestasis-1-negative Caco-2 cells, the activity of the human apical sodium-dependent bile acid transporter promoter was enhanced, whereas the human FXR and bile salt excretory pump promoters' activities were reduced. Overexpression of short heterodimer partner but not of the FXR abrogated the effect of familial intrahepatic cholestasis-1 antisense oligonucleotides. FXR cis-element binding and FXR protein were reduced primarily in nuclear but not cytoplasmic extracts from familial intrahepatic cholestasis-1-negative Caco-2 cells.
Conclusions: Loss of familial intrahepatic cholestasis-1 leads to diminished nuclear translocation of the FXR, with the subsequent potential for pathologic alterations in intestinal and hepatic bile acid transporter expression. Marked hypercholanemia and cholestasis are predicted to develop, presumably because of both enhanced ileal uptake of bile salts via up-regulation of the apical sodium-dependent bile acid transporter and diminished canalicular secretion of bile salts secondary to down-regulation of the bile salt excretory pump.