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FXR agonist obeticholic acid reduces hepatic inflammation and fibrosis in a rat model of toxic cirrhosis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Olivier GovaereORCiD, Dr Sabine Klein



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2016 The Author(s). Hepatic inflammation drives hepatic stellate cells (HSC), resulting in liver fibrosis. The Farnesoid-X receptor (FXR) antagonizes inflammation through NF-κB inhibition. We investigated preventive and therapeutic effects of FXR agonist obeticholic acid (OCA) on hepatic inflammation and fibrosis in toxic cirrhotic rats. Cirrhosis was induced by thioacetamide (TAA) intoxication. OCA was given during or after intoxication with vehicle-treated rats as controls. At sacrifice, fibrosis, hemodynamic and biochemical parameters were assessed. HSC activation, cell turn-over, hepatic NF-κB activation, pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic cytokines were determined. The effect of OCA was further evaluated in isolated HSC, Kupffer cells, hepatocytes and liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC). OCA decreased hepatic inflammation and fibrogenesis during TAA-administration and reversed fibrosis in established cirrhosis. Portal pressure decreased through reduced intrahepatic vascular resistance. This was paralleled by decreased expression of pro-fibrotic cytokines (transforming growth-factor β, connective tissue growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor β-receptor) as well as markers of hepatic cell turn-over, by blunting effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. monocyte chemo-attractant protein-1). In vitro, OCA inhibited both LSEC and Kupffer cell activation; while HSC remained unaffected. This related to NF-κB inhibition via up-regulated IκBα. In conclusion, OCA inhibits hepatic inflammation in toxic cirrhotic rats resulting in decreased HSC activation and fibrosis.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Verbeke L, Mannaerts I, Schierwagen R, Govaere O, Klein S, Vander Elst I, Windmolders P, Farre R, Wenes M, Mazzone M, Nevens F, Van Grunsven LA, Trebicka J, Laleman W

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2016

Volume: 6

Online publication date: 16/09/2016

Acceptance date: 16/08/2016

Date deposited: 08/12/2017

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/srep33453


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