Delineation of biochemical, molecular, and physiological changes accompanying bile acid pool size restoration in Cyp7a1 -/- mice fed low levels of cholic acid

Ryan D. Jones, Joyce J. Repa, David W. Russell, John M. Dietschy, Stephen D. Turley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase (CYP7A1) is the initiating and rate-limiting enzyme in the neutral pathway that coverts cholesterol to primary bile acids (BA). CYP7A1-deficient (Cyp7a1 -/-) mice have a depleted BA pool, diminished intestinal cholesterol absorption, accelerated fecal sterol loss, and increased intestinal cholesterol synthesis. To determine the molecular and physiological effects of restoring the BA pool in this model, adult female Cyp7a1 -/- mice and matching Cyp7a1 +/+ controls were fed diets containing cholic acid (CA) at modest levels [0.015, 0.030, and 0.060% (wt/wt)] for 15-18 days. A level of just 0.03% provided a CA intake of ~12 μmol (4.8 mg) per day per 100 g body wt and was sufficient in the Cyp7a1 -/- mice to normalize BA pool size, fecal BA excretion, fractional cholesterol absorption, and fecal sterol excretion but caused a significant rise in the cholesterol concentration in the small intestine and liver, as well as a marked inhibition of cholesterol synthesis in these organs. In parallel with these metabolic changes, there were marked shifts in intestinal and hepatic expression levels for many target genes of the BA sensor farnesoid X receptor, as well as genes involved in cholesterol transport, especially ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter A1 (ABCA1) and ABCG8. In Cyp7a1 -/- mice, this level of CA supplementation did not significantly disrupt BA or cholesterol metabolism, except for an increase in fecal BA excretion and marginal changes in mRNA expression for some BA synthetic enzymes. These findings underscore the importance of using moderate dietary BA levels in studies with animal models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G263-G274
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2012



  • Bile acid excretion
  • Bile acid synthesis and transport
  • Cholesterol synthesis and transport
  • Liver
  • Small intestine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)

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