FXR agonist GW4064 alleviates endotoxin-induced hepatic inflammation by repressing macrophage activation

World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Oct 21;20(39):14430-41. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i39.14430.


Aim: To examine the effect of farnesoid X receptor (FXR) activation by GW4064 on endotoxin-induced hepatic inflammation in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and the underlying mechanism.

Methods: Six-week-old male C57BL/6 mice were fed a normal diet or a high-fat (HF) diet for 8 wk. HF diet-fed mice were intraperitoneally injected with GW4064 (30 mg/kg) or DMSO (vehicle) once daily for a week and then sacrificed after lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 50 μg/mouse) administration. Hepatic inflammation, levels of the macrophage marker F4/80, and apoptosis were measured at the end of the study. Additionally, the expression of proinflammatory genes involved in NAFLD (interleukin-6, interleukin-1β, interferon-γ, MCP-1) were analyzed by real-time PCR in the murine macrophage cell line RAW 264.7 cultured with or without GW4064 (2 μmol/L) before treatment with LPS.

Results: In patients with NAFLD, the expression of FXR was detected by immunohistochemical staining and the relation between FXR expression and NAFLD activity score (NAS) was analyzed. Activation of FXR by GW4064 alleviated hepatic inflammation induced by endotoxin in a murine NAFLD model fed an HF diet as reflected by reduced serum levels of aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase. Apoptosis and proinflammatory cytokine levels in liver tissues were also reduced by GW4064, and GW4064 could reduce induction of proinflammatory cytokines by LPS in vitro. FXR levels were reduced in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis compared with healthy controls and were negatively correlated with NAS.

Conclusion: FXR activation attenuates LPS-induced hepatic inflammation in murine NAFLD by reducing expression of proinflammatory cytokines in macrophages.

Keywords: Farnesoid X receptor; GW4064; Lipopolysaccharide-induced hepatic inflammation; Macrophage activation; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease activity score.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antigens, Differentiation / metabolism
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Isoxazoles / pharmacology*
  • Lipopolysaccharides*
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / immunology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Macrophage Activation / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Middle Aged
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / chemically induced
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / immunology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / prevention & control*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / agonists*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Isoxazoles
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • monocyte-macrophage differentiation antigen
  • farnesoid X-activated receptor
  • GW 4064