Digestive physiology of the pig symposium: intestinal bile acid sensing is linked to key endocrine and metabolic signaling pathways

J Anim Sci. 2013 May;91(5):1991-2000. doi: 10.2527/jas.2013-6331.


Bile acids have historically been considered to mainly function in cholesterol homeostasis and facilitate fat digestion in the gastrointestinal tract. Recent discoveries show that bile acids also function as signaling molecules that exert diverse endocrine and metabolic actions by activating G protein-coupled bile acid receptor 1 (GPBAR1/G-protein-coupled bile acid receptor 1 or TGR5), a membrane G protein-coupled receptor, and farnesoid X receptor (FXR), a member of the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily. These bile acid sensing receptors are expressed in intestinal epithelial cells, TGR5 in enteroendocrine cells and FXR in enterocytes, which line the mucosa of gut lumen. A dominant effect of intestinal FXR activation by bile acids is secretion of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 19, a novel enterokine that functions as a central enterohepatic signal to maintain bile acid homeostasis in the liver. Activation of TGR5 on enteroendocrine cells stimulates secretion of glucagon-like peptides (GLP)-1 and -2, which function, respectively, as the major incretin hormone involved in glucose homeostasis and key trophic hormone in intestinal adaptation and growth in response to food ingestion. The biological actions induced by bile acid activation of intestinal FXR and TGR5 have important therapeutic implications for the pathogenesis and treatment of several metabolic diseases, such as cholestasis and diabetes. This review highlights these new developments in the biology of intestinal bile acid sensing and metabolic function and discusses the potential implications for the health and agricultural production of domestic swine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / metabolism
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 2 / metabolism
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Mice / physiology
  • Rats / physiology
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Swine / physiology*


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 2
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1