Activation of LXRs prevents bile acid toxicity and cholestasis in female mice

Hepatology. 2007 Feb;45(2):422-32. doi: 10.1002/hep.21494.


Liver X receptors (LXRs) have been identified as sterol sensors that regulate cholesterol and lipid homeostasis and macrophage functions. In this study, we found that LXRs also affect sensitivity to bile acid toxicity and cholestasis. Activation of LXRalpha in transgenic mice confers a female-specific resistance to lithocholic acid (LCA)-induced hepatotoxicity and bile duct ligation (BDL)-induced cholestasis. This resistance was also seen in wild-type female mice treated with the synthetic LXR ligand TO1317. In contrast, LXR double knockout (DKO) mice deficient in both the alpha and beta isoforms exhibited heightened cholestatic sensitivity. LCA and BDL resistance in transgenic mice was associated with increased expression of bile acid-detoxifying sulfotransferase 2A (Sult2a) and selected bile acid transporters, whereas basal expression of these gene products was reduced in the LXR DKO mice. Promoter analysis showed that the mouse Sult2a9 gene is a transcriptional target of LXRs. Activation of LXRs a l so suppresses expression of oxysterol 7alpha-hydroxylase (Cyp7b1), which may lead to increased levels of LXR-activating oxysterols.

Conclusion: We propose that LXRs have evolved to have the dual functions of maintaining cholesterol and bile acid homeostasis by increasing cholesterol catabolism and, at the same time, preventing toxicity from bile acid accumulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile Acids and Salts / adverse effects*
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Cholestasis / metabolism
  • Cholestasis / prevention & control*
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics
  • Cytochrome P450 Family 7
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Female
  • Homeostasis
  • Lithocholic Acid / adverse effects
  • Lithocholic Acid / metabolism
  • Liver X Receptors
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Orphan Nuclear Receptors
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / genetics
  • Sulfotransferases / metabolism


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Liver X Receptors
  • Nr1h3 protein, mouse
  • Orphan Nuclear Receptors
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Lithocholic Acid
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Cholesterol
  • Steroid Hydroxylases
  • Cytochrome P450 Family 7
  • Cyp7b1 protein, mouse
  • Sulfotransferases
  • bile-salt sulfotransferase