Crosstalk between Bile Acids and Gut Microbiota and Its Impact on Farnesoid X Receptor Signalling

Dig Dis. 2017;35(3):246-250. doi: 10.1159/000450982. Epub 2017 Mar 1.


Background: The gut microbiota has a substantial impact on health and disease. The human gut microbiota influences the development and progression of metabolic diseases; however, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. The nuclear farnesoid X receptor (FXR), which regulates bile acid homeostasis and glucose and lipid metabolism, is activated by primary human and murine bile acids, chenodeoxycholic acid and cholic acid, while rodent specific primary bile acids tauromuricholic acids antagonise FXR activation. The gut microbiota deconjugates and subsequently metabolises primary bile acids into secondary bile acids in the gut and thereby changes FXR activation and signalling. Key Message: Mouse models have been used to study the crosstalk between bile acids and the gut microbiota, but the substantial differences in bile acid composition between humans and mice need to be considered when interpreting data from such studies and for the development of so-called humanised mouse models.

Conclusion: It is of special importance to elucidate how a human gut microbiota influences bile acid composition and FXR signalling in colonised mice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Bile Acids and Salts / biosynthesis
  • Bile Acids and Salts / chemistry
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • farnesoid X-activated receptor