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      Farnesoid X receptor agonist INT-767 attenuates liver steatosis and inflammation in rat model of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis

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          Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is largely driven by the dysregulation of liver metabolism and inflammation. Bile acids and their receptor Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) play a critical role in the disease development. Here, we investigated whether INT-767, the newly-identified dual FXR/TGR5 agonist, can protect rat from liver injury during NASH.

          Materials and methods

          NASH model was established by feeding the male SD rats with high-fat diet for 16 weeks. INT-767 was given by gavage to NASH rats from week 13 to week 16. At the end of 16 weeks, liver and serum were harvested, and bile acids, glucose and lipid metabolism, liver injury and histological features were evaluated.


          INT-767 treatment significantly alleviates high-fat caused liver damage characterized with lipid accumulation and hepatic infiltration of immune cells. INT-767 robustly restores the lipid, glucose metabolism to normal level, attenuates insulin resistance through upregulating FXR level and reverting the dysregulation of its target genes in liver metabolism. Molecularly INT-767 also attenuates the pro-inflammatory response by suppression of TNF-α and NF-κB signaling pathway.


          INT-767 may be an attractive candidate for a potential novel strategy on the treatment of NASH.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Targeted disruption of the nuclear receptor FXR/BAR impairs bile acid and lipid homeostasis.

          Mice lacking the nuclear bile acid receptor FXR/BAR developed normally and were outwardly identical to wild-type littermates. FXR/BAR null mice were distinguished from wild-type mice by elevated serum bile acid, cholesterol, and triglycerides, increased hepatic cholesterol and triglycerides, and a proatherogenic serum lipoprotein profile. FXR/BAR null mice also had reduced bile acid pools and reduced fecal bile acid excretion due to decreased expression of the major hepatic canalicular bile acid transport protein. Bile acid repression and induction of cholesterol 7alpha-hydroxylase and the ileal bile acid binding protein, respectively, did not occur in FXR/BAR null mice, establishing the regulatory role of FXR/BAR for the expression of these genes in vivo. These data demonstrate that FXR/BAR is critical for bile acid and lipid homeostasis by virtue of its role as an intracellular bile acid sensor.
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            Bile acid receptors as targets for drug development.

            The intracellular nuclear receptor farnesoid X receptor and the transmembrane G protein-coupled receptor TGR5 respond to bile acids by activating transcriptional networks and/or signalling cascades. These cascades affect the expression of a great number of target genes relevant for bile acid, cholesterol, lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, as well as genes involved in inflammation, fibrosis and carcinogenesis. Pregnane X receptor, vitamin D receptor and constitutive androstane receptor are additional nuclear receptors that respond to bile acids, albeit to a more restricted set of species of bile acids. Recognition of dedicated bile acid receptors prompted the development of semi-synthetic bile acid analogues and nonsteroidal compounds that target these receptors. These agents hold promise to become a new class of drugs for the treatment of chronic liver disease, hepatocellular cancer and extrahepatic inflammatory and metabolic diseases. This Review discusses the relevant bile acid receptors, the new drugs that target bile acid signalling and their possible applications.
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              FXR activation reverses insulin resistance and lipid abnormalities and protects against liver steatosis in Zucker (fa/fa) obese rats.

              The farnesoid X receptor (FXR) is a bile acid activated nuclear receptor. Zucker (fa/fa) rats, harboring a loss of function mutation of the leptin receptor, develop diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and liver steatosis. In this study, we investigated the effect of FXR activation by 6-ethyl-chenodeoxycholic acid, (6E-CDCA, 10 mg/kg) on insulin resistance and liver and muscle lipid metabolism in fa/fa rats and compared its activity with rosiglitazone (10 mg/kg) alone or in combination with 6E-CDCA (5 mg/kg each). In comparison to lean (fa/+), fa/fa rats on a normal diet developed insulin resistance and liver steatosis. FXR activation protected against body weight gain and liver and muscle fat deposition and reversed insulin resistance as assessed by insulin responsive substrate-1 phosphorylation on serine 312 in liver and muscles. Activation of FXR reduced liver expression of genes involved in fatty acid synthesis, lipogenesis, and gluconeogenesis. In the muscles, FXR treatment reduced free fatty acid synthesis. Rosiglitazone reduced blood insulin, glucose, triglyceride, free fatty acid, and cholesterol plasma levels but promoted body weight gain (20%) and liver fat deposition. FXR activation reduced high density lipoprotein plasma levels. In summary, FXR administration reversed insulin resistance and correct lipid metabolism abnormalities in an obesity animal model.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                16 July 2018
                : 12
                : 2213-2221
                [1 ]Department of Gastroenterology, Puai Hospital (Wuhan Fourth Hospital), Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China, dr.huyingbin@ 123456outlook.com
                [2 ]Cancer Science Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Ying-Bin Hu, Department of Gastroenterology, Wuhan Fourth Hospital, 473 Hanzheng Street, Qiaokou District, Wuhan, 430033, Hubei Province, China, Email dr.huyingbin@ 123456outlook.com
                © 2018 Hu et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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