Objectives: Bile acid (BA) homeostasis is regulated by intestinal cellular signaling involving the farnesoid X receptor (FXR) and fibroblast growth factor 19 (FGF19) secretion. Using preterm and term pigs as a model, we examined postnatal changes in expression of the FXR-FGF19 axis that is poorly characterized in human infants.
Methods: Pigs delivered by caesarean section at 10-day preterm and near full term (115-day gestation) were fitted with orogastric and umbilical arterial catheters. Pigs were fed combined parenteral nutrition and minimal enteral nutrition for 5 days, followed by milk formula until 26 d days. Plasma and tissue samples were collected at days 0, 5, 11, and 26. Plasma FGF19 concentration and liver and distal intestinal gene expression of FGF19 and other FXR target genes were quantified.
Results: Plasma FGF19 levels were lower in preterm versus term newborn pigs (P < 0.05), increased markedly by 5 days, especially in preterm pigs, and decreased in both groups until day 26. Likewise, intestinal FXR and FGF19 expression was lower (P ≤ 0.05) in premature versus term newborn pigs and decreased (P ≤ 0.05) between days 5 and 26. Hepatic expression of cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase (CYP7A1) was inversely correlated with plasma FGF19 in both groups.
Conclusions: We conclude that the activity of FXR-FGF19 axis is lower in preterm than in term newborn pigs but increases transiently and then declines by the first month of age. We also provide supportive evidence of negative feedback between plasma FGF19 and hepatic CYP7A1 expression.