Inhibition of intestinal bile acid absorption improves cholestatic liver and bile duct injury in a mouse model of sclerosing cholangitis

J Hepatol. 2016 Mar;64(3):674-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2015.10.024. Epub 2015 Oct 31.


Background and aims: Approximately 95% of bile acids (BAs) excreted into bile are reabsorbed in the gut and circulate back to the liver for further biliary secretion. Therefore, pharmacological inhibition of the ileal apical sodium-dependent BA transporter (ASBT/SLC10A2) may protect against BA-mediated cholestatic liver and bile duct injury.

Methods: Eight week old Mdr2(-/-) (Abcb4(-/-)) mice (model of cholestatic liver injury and sclerosing cholangitis) received either a diet supplemented with A4250 (0.01% w/w) - a highly potent and selective ASBT inhibitor - or a chow diet. Liver injury was assessed biochemically and histologically after 4weeks of A4250 treatment. Expression profiles of genes involved in BA homeostasis, inflammation and fibrosis were assessed via RT-PCR from liver and ileum homogenates. Intestinal inflammation was assessed by RNA expression profiling and immunohistochemistry. Bile flow and composition, as well as biliary and fecal BA profiles were analyzed after 1week of ASBT inhibitor feeding.

Results: A4250 improved sclerosing cholangitis in Mdr2(-/-) mice and significantly reduced serum alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase and BAs levels, hepatic expression of pro-inflammatory (Tnf-α, Vcam1, Mcp-1) and pro-fibrogenic (Col1a1, Col1a2) genes and bile duct proliferation (mRNA and immunohistochemistry for cytokeratin 19 (CK19)). Furthermore, A4250 significantly reduced bile flow and biliary BA output, which correlated with reduced Bsep transcription, while Ntcp and Cyp7a1 were induced. Importantly A4250 significantly reduced biliary BA secretion but preserved HCO3(-) and biliary phospholipid secretion resulting in an increased HCO3(-)/BA and PL/BA ratio. In addition, A4250 profoundly increased fecal BA excretion without causing diarrhea and altered BA pool composition, resulting in diminished concentrations of primary BAs tauro-β-muricholic acid and taurocholic acid.

Conclusions: Pharmacological ASBT inhibition attenuates cholestatic liver and bile duct injury by reducing biliary BA concentrations in mice.

Keywords: Cholangitis; Liver and bile duct injury; Sclerosing; Sodium-dependent BA transporter (ASBT/SLC10A2).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism*
  • Bile Ducts / drug effects*
  • Bile Ducts / injuries
  • Bile Ducts / pathology
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / drug therapy*
  • Cholestasis / drug therapy*
  • Cholestasis / metabolism
  • Gallbladder / drug effects
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Mice
  • Organic Anion Transporters, Sodium-Dependent / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Symporters / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Organic Anion Transporters, Sodium-Dependent
  • Symporters
  • sodium-bile acid cotransporter