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Targeting FXR in Cholestasis

  • Verena KeitelEmail author
  • Carola Dröge
  • Dieter Häussinger
Chapter
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series

Abstract

The farnesoid X receptor (FXR, NR1H4) is a bile acid (BA)-activated transcription factor, which is essential for BA homeostasis. FXR and its hepatic and intestinal target genes, small heterodimer partner (SHP, NR0B2) and fibroblast growth factor 15/19 (Fgf15 in mice, FGF19 in humans), transcriptionally regulate BA synthesis, detoxification, secretion, and absorption in the enterohepatic circulation. Furthermore, FXR modulates a large variety of physiological processes, such as lipid and glucose homeostasis as well as the inflammatory response. Targeted deletion of FXR renders mice highly susceptible to cholic acid feeding resulting in cholestatic liver injury, weight loss, and increased mortality. Combined deletion of FXR and SHP spontaneously triggers early-onset intrahepatic cholestasis in mice resembling human progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC). Reduced expression levels and activity of FXR have been reported in human cholestatic conditions, such as PFIC type 1 and intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. Recently, two pairs of siblings with homozygous FXR truncation or deletion variants were identified. All four children suffered from severe, early-onset PFIC and liver failure leading to death or need for liver transplantation before the age of 2. These findings underscore the central role of FXR as regulator of systemic and hepatic BA levels. Therefore, targeting FXR has been exploited in different animal models of both intrahepatic and obstructive cholestasis, and the first FXR agonist obeticholic acid (OCA) has been approved for the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis (PBC). Further FXR agonists as well as a FGF19 analogue are currently tested in clinical trials for different cholestatic liver diseases. This chapter will summarize the current knowledge on the role of FXR in cholestasis both in rodent models and in human diseases.

Keywords

Bile acid homeostasis Cholestasis Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) FGF19 Fibroblast growth factor Obeticholic acid Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) 

Notes

Acknowledgment

Our own studies are supported by DFG through SFB974 “Communication and systems relevance in liver damage and regeneration.”

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Verena Keitel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carola Dröge
    • 1
  • Dieter Häussinger
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinic for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectious DiseasesUniversity Hospital Düsseldorf, Medical Faculty at Heinrich-Heine-UniversityDüsseldorfGermany

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