Role of Bile Acids in Metabolic Control

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Jan;29(1):31-41. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2017.11.002. Epub 2017 Nov 28.


Bile acids are endocrine molecules that in addition to facilitating the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients regulate numerous metabolic processes, including glucose, lipid, and energy homeostasis. The signaling actions of bile acids are mediated through specific bile-acid-activated nuclear and membrane-bound receptors. These receptors are not only expressed by tissues within the enterohepatic circulation such as the liver and the intestine, but also in other organs where bile acids mediate their systemic actions. In this review, we discuss bile acid signaling and the interplay with the gut microbiota in the pathophysiology of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and the role of surgical and pharmacological interventions on bile acid profiles and metabolism.

Keywords: Takeda G protein-coupled receptor 5; bile acids; farnesoid X receptor; gut microbiota; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; obesity surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / therapy
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*


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