Bile acid-microbiota crosstalk in hepatitis B virus infection

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2024 May 9. doi: 10.1111/jgh.16604. Online ahead of print.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a hepatotropic non-cytopathic virus characterized by liver-specific gene expression. HBV infection highjacks bile acid metabolism, notably impairing bile acid uptake via sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP), which is a functional receptor for HBV entry. Concurrently, HBV infection induces changes in bile acid synthesis and the size of the bile acid pool. Conversely, bile acid facilitates HBV replication and expression through the signaling molecule farnesoid X receptor (FXR), a nuclear receptor activated by bile acid. However, in HepaRG cells and primary hepatocytes, FXR agonists suppress HBV RNA expression and the synthesis and secretion of DNA. In the gut, the size and composition of the bile acid pool significantly influence the gut microbiota. In turn, the gut microbiota impacts bile acid metabolism and innate immunity, potentially promoting HBV clearance. Thus, the bile acid-gut microbiota axis represents a complex and evolving relationship in the context of HBV infection. This review explores the interplay between bile acid and gut microbiota in HBV infection and discusses the development of HBV entry inhibitors targeting NTCP.

Keywords: Bile acid; FMT; FXR; Gut microbiota; Hepatitis B virus; NTCP.

Publication types

  • Review