Bile acid-induced apoptosis and bile acid synthesis are reduced by over-expression of Augmenter of Liver Regeneration (ALR) in a STAT3-dependent mechanism

Exp Cell Res. 2019 Jan 1;374(1):189-197. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2018.11.023. Epub 2018 Nov 28.


Cholestasis represents pathophysiologic syndromes defined as an impaired bile flow from the liver. As an outcome, bile acids accumulate and promote hepatocytes injury followed by liver cirrhosis and liver failure. Bile acids induce apoptosis, ER stress and mitochondrial membrane instability. In this study we aimed to investigate the role of cytosolic short form of ALR (Augmenter of Liver Regeneration) in the synthesis of bile acids and bile acid-induced apoptosis. Human hepatoma cells over-expressing the short form of ALR (sfALR, 15 kDa) were incubated with glycochenodeoxycholic acid (GCDCA), and then primary bile acids' production and apoptosis were analyzed. High levels of cytosolic sfALR reduced CYP7A1 mRNA expression and bile acids levels, the rate-limiting enzyme in the classic pathway of bile acid synthesis. This reduction was attributed to STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3) activation and reduction of HNF4α (Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α). Furthermore, apoptosis induction by GCDCA and TRAIL was reduced in cells over-expressing sfALR which was attributed to reduced expression of death receptor 5 (DR5). We found decreased hepatic mRNA levels of ALR and FOXA2 (Forkhead Box A2), an inducer of ALR expression, in human cholestatic liver samples which might explain the increased accumulation of bile acids and bile acid-induced apoptosis in cholestasis patients.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Augmenter of liver regeneration; Cholestasis; FOXA2; STAT3.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Bile Acids and Salts / biosynthesis*
  • Bile Acids and Salts / pharmacology*
  • Cholestasis / pathology
  • Cholesterol 7-alpha-Hydroxylase / metabolism
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on Sulfur Group Donors / genetics*
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on Sulfur Group Donors / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • HNF4A protein, human
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4
  • RNA, Messenger
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • CYP7A1 protein, human
  • Cholesterol 7-alpha-Hydroxylase
  • GFER protein, human
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on Sulfur Group Donors