Cholestasis is a pathophysiologic syndrome with limited therapeutic options. Tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) has been employed to treat hepatobiliary disorders and is as effective as UDCA in alleviating cholestatic liver disease in clinical trials. Until now, TUDCA’s mechanism of action toward cholestasis remains unclear. In the present study, cholestasis was induced with a cholic acid (CA)-supplemented diet or α-naphthyl isothiocyanate (ANIT) gavage in wild-type and Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) deficient mice, using obeticholic acid (OCA) as control. The effects of TUDCA on liver histological changes, transaminase level, bile acid composition, hepatocyte death, expression of Fxr and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and target genes, as well as apoptotic signaling pathways, were investigated. Treating CA-fed mice with TUDCA markedly alleviated liver injury, attenuated bile acids retention in liver and plasma, increased Fxr and Nrf2 nuclear levels and modulated the expression of targets regulating synthesis and transportation of bile acids, including BSEP, MRP2, NTCP and CYP7A1. TUDCA, but not OCA, activated Nrf2 signaling and exerted protective effects against cholestatic liver injury in Fxr−/− mice fed with CA. Furthermore, in both mice with CA- and ANIT-induced cholestasis, TUDCA decreased expression of GRP78 and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP), reduced death receptor 5 (DR5) transcription, caspase-8 activation, and BID cleavage, and subsequently inhibited activation of executioner caspases and apoptosis in liver. We confirmed that TUDCA protected against cholestatic liver injury by alleviating BAs burden of dually activating hepatic Fxr and Nrf2. Moreover, inhibiting CHOP-DR5-caspase-8 pathway contributed to the anti-apoptotic effect of TUDCA in cholestasis.

You do not currently have access to this content.