Background: The gut microbiota-intestine-liver relationship is emerging as an important factor in multiple hepatic pathologies, but the hepatic sensors and effectors of microbial signals are not well defined.
Results: By comparing publicly available liver transcriptomics data from conventional vs. germ-free mice, we identified pregnane X receptor (PXR, NR1I2) transcriptional activity as strongly affected by the absence of gut microbes. Microbiota depletion using antibiotics in Pxr+/+ vs Pxr-/- C57BL/6J littermate mice followed by hepatic transcriptomics revealed that most microbiota-sensitive genes were PXR-dependent in the liver in males, but not in females. Pathway enrichment analysis suggested that microbiota-PXR interaction controlled fatty acid and xenobiotic metabolism. We confirmed that antibiotic treatment reduced liver triglyceride content and hampered xenobiotic metabolism in the liver from Pxr+/+ but not Pxr-/- male mice.
Conclusions: These findings identify PXR as a hepatic effector of microbiota-derived signals that regulate the host's sexually dimorphic lipid and xenobiotic metabolisms in the liver. Thus, our results reveal a potential new mechanism for unexpected drug-drug or food-drug interactions. Video abstract.
Keywords: Fatty acid metabolism; Gut microbiota; Liver; NR1I2; Pregnane X receptor; Transcriptomics; Xenobiotic metabolism.