The Role of Bile Acids in Glucose Metabolism and Their Relation with Diabetes

Ann Hepatol. 2017 Nov;16(Suppl. 1: s3-105.):16-21. doi: 10.5604/01.3001.0010.5672.


Bile acids (BAs), the end products of cholesterol catabolism, are essential for the absorption of lipids and fat-soluble vitamins; but they have also emerged as novel signaling molecules that act as metabolic regulators. It has been well described that the enterohepatic circulation, a nuclear (FXR) and a cytoplasmic (TGR5/M-BAR) receptor aid in controlling hepatic bile acid synthesis. Modulating bile acid synthesis greatly impacts in metabolism, because these receptors also are implicated in glucose, lipid, and energy expenditure. Recent studies had revealed the way these receptors participate in regulating gluconeogenesis, peripheral insulin sensitivity, glycogen synthesis, glucagon like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and insulin secretion. Nowadays, it is demonstrated that enhancing bile acid signaling in the intestine contributes to the metabolic benefits of bile acid sequestrants and bariatric surgery on glucose homeostasis. This paper discusses the role of bile acid as regulators of glucose metabolism and their potential as therapeutic targets for diabetes.

Keywords: Farnesoid X receptor (FXR); Fibroblast growth factor- 19 (FGF19); G protein-coupled receptor (TGR5/M-BAR); Glucose homeostasis; Metabolic regulators.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile Acids and Salts / blood
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism*
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Blood Glucose
  • GPBAR1 protein, human
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • farnesoid X-activated receptor