Serum levels of HDL are inversely correlated with the risk of coronary heart disease. The anti-atherogenic effect of HDL is partially mediated by its major protein constituent apoA-I. In this study, we identify bile acids that are activators of the nuclear receptor farnesoid X receptor (FXR) as negative regulators of human apoA-I expression. Intrahepatocellular accumulation of bile acids, as seen in patients with progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis and biliary atresia, was associated with diminished apoA-I serum levels. In human apoA-I transgenic mice, treatment with the FXR agonist taurocholic acid strongly decreased serum concentrations and liver mRNA levels of human apoA-I, which was associated with reduced serum HDL levels. Incubation of human primary hepatocytes and hepatoblastoma HepG2 cells with bile acids resulted in a dose-dependent downregulation of apoA-I expression. Promoter mutation analysis and gel-shift experiments in HepG2 cells demonstrated that bile acid–activated FXR decreases human apoA-I promoter activity by a negative FXR response element mapped to the C site. FXR bound this site and repressed transcription in a manner independent of retinoid X receptor. The nonsteroidal synthetic FXR agonist GW4064 likewise decreased apoA-I mRNA levels and promoter activity in HepG2 cells.
Thierry Claudel, Ekkehard Sturm, Hélène Duez, Inés Pineda Torra, Audrey Sirvent, Vladimir Kosykh, Jean-Charles Fruchart, Jean Dallongeville, Dean W. Hum, Folkert Kuipers, Bart Staels