The bile acid receptor GPBAR-1 (TGR5) modulates integrity of intestinal barrier and immune response to experimental colitis

PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e25637. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025637. Epub 2011 Oct 27.


Background: GP-BAR1, a member G protein coupled receptor superfamily, is a cell surface bile acid-activated receptor highly expressed in the ileum and colon. In monocytes, ligation of GP-BAR1 by secondary bile acids results in a cAMP-dependent attenuation of cytokine generation.

Aims: To investigate the role GP-BAR1 in regulating intestinal homeostasis and inflammation-driven immune dysfunction in rodent models of colitis.

Methods: Colitis was induced in wild type and GP-BAR1(-/-) mice by DSS and TNBS administration. Potential GP-BAR1 agonists were identified by in silico screening and computational docking studies.

Results: GP-BAR1(-/-) mice develop an abnormal morphology of colonic mucous cells and an altered molecular architecture of epithelial tight junctions with increased expression and abnormal subcellular distribution of zonulin 1 resulting in increased intestinal permeability and susceptibility to develop severe colitis in response to DSS at early stage of life. By in silico screening and docking studies we identified ciprofloxacin as a GP-BAR1 ligand. In monocytes, ciprofloxacin increases cAMP concentrations and attenuates TNFα release induced by TLR4 ligation in a GP-BAR1 dependent manner. Treating mice rendered colitic by TNBS with ciprofloxacin and oleanolic acid, a well characterized GP-BAR1 ligand, abrogates signs and symptoms of colitis. Colonic expression of GP-BAR1 mRNA increases in rodent models of colitis and tissues from Crohn's disease patients. Flow cytometry analysis demonstrates that ≈90% of CD14+ cells isolated from the lamina propria of TNBS-treated mice stained positively for GP-BAR1.

Conclusions: GP-BAR1 regulates intestinal barrier structure. Its expression increases in rodent models of colitis and Crohn's disease. Ciprofloxacin is a GP-BAR1 ligand.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholera Toxin
  • Ciprofloxacin / pharmacology
  • Ciprofloxacin / therapeutic use
  • Colitis / chemically induced
  • Colitis / drug therapy*
  • Colitis / immunology*
  • Haptoglobins
  • Immunity
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Permeability
  • Protein Precursors
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology*
  • Tight Junctions


  • Gpbar1 protein, mouse
  • Haptoglobins
  • Ligands
  • Protein Precursors
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • zonulin
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Cholera Toxin