Downregulation of nuclear receptor FXR is associated with multiple malignant clinicopathological characteristics in human hepatocellular carcinoma

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2012 Dec 1;303(11):G1245-53. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00439.2011. Epub 2012 Oct 4.


The nuclear receptor farnesoid X receptor (FXR) acts as a liver protector by regulating normal liver homeostasis. Spontaneously developed liver tumors have been found in FXR-null mice. However, the role of FXR in the tumorigenesis of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is still poorly understood. In this study, we measured the expression of FXR and its primary target gene, small heterodimer partner, and analyzed the clinical significance of FXR expression in HCC patients. A lentiviral vector that selectively overexpresses FXR was used to investigate the function of FXR in HCC cell proliferation both in vitro and in vivo. Our data showed that in human HCC, FXR expression was significantly reduced and was positively correlated with multiple malignant clinicopathological characteristics. Lentivirus-mediated exogenous FXR expression resulted in a marked increase of small heterodimer partner expression, significant repression of liver cancer cell proliferation, and tumor growth in nude mice. These results suggest that FXR may be of clinical and pharmacological importance as a promising biomarker of HCC.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / physiopathology*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / biosynthesis*


  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • nuclear receptor subfamily 0, group B, member 2
  • farnesoid X-activated receptor