Bile salt receptor linked to replication and repression of HBV virus

October 11, 2018, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
A microscopic image of the Hepatitis B virus, taken by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Despite an efficient and well-tolerated vaccine, hepatitis B (HBV) remains a major public health problem, with more than 250 million people at high risk of developing liver cirrhosis and cancer as a result. HBV treatment must be given for life, as it does not produce long-term disease control. A new animal study published in The FASEB Journal reveals a significant link between HBV and the metabolic pathway of bile salts that could have implications for a new therapeutic strategy for HBV treatment.

To conduct the in vitro mouse study, a research team observed a line of liver cells. Within these cells, they observed that silencing the expression of Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) (the main receptor of bile salts that regulates bile synthesis) repressed HBV replication. They then used an FXR agonist (a small molecule mimicking bile salt) to activate the receptor and examine its effect on HBV replication. Researchers found that the virus replication was less active in mice that received the molecule than in the control mice, confirming for the first time that an FXR agonist is capable of repressing HBV.

"This is quite a new concept that extends the role of bile salts in host physiology," said Patrice André, MD, Ph.D., a professor of virology at Charles Mérieux Lyon Sud Medical School within the Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, and a researcher at Centre international de Recherche en Infectiologie, in Lyon, France. "FXR agonists could provide a better therapeutic approach that would relieve the burden of life-long therapy for HBV patients worldwide."

The study also found that young infected mice did not respond to treatment with the agonist as adult mice did. This finding suggests a potential link between the lack of bile salt pathway maturation and a higher risk of chronic infection in newborns and young infants.

"This unanticipated link with the bile receptor is both fascinating as basic science, as well as offering a potential new therapeutic opportunity," said Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.

Explore further: Bile acids from the gut could help to treat cocaine abuse

Related Stories

Bile acids from the gut could help to treat cocaine abuse

July 26, 2018
Bile acids that aid fat digestion are also found to reduce the rewarding properties of cocaine use, according to a study publishing on July 26 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by India Reddy, Nicholas Smith, and Robb ...

Liver study offers insights into hard-to-treat diseases

March 9, 2018
A key cell process that could cause damage to bile ducts and help explain some liver diseases has been identified by scientists.

Gut microbiota regulates bile acid metabolism

April 19, 2012
A new study presented today at the International Liver Congress 2012 demonstrates that the gut microbiota has a profound systemic effect on bile acid metabolism.

Phase 2 studies of two novel treatments for primary biliary cholangitis report encouraging results

April 13, 2018
Preliminary results from two ongoing Phase 2 studies of novel agents under investigation for the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) have suggested promising efficacy, safety and tolerability profiles in patients ...

Investigators find that bile acids reduce cocaine reward

August 31, 2018
Bile acids—gut compounds that aid in the digestion of dietary fats—reduce the desire for cocaine, according to a new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Recommended for you

New hope for cystic fibrosis

October 19, 2018
A new triple-combination drug treatment being trialled at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane could increase the life expectancy of patients with cystic fibrosis.

Bug guts shed light on Central America Chagas disease

October 18, 2018
In Central America, Chagas disease, or American trypanosomiasis, is spread by the "kissing bug" Triatoma dimidiata. By collecting DNA from the guts of these bugs, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases ...

Rapid genomic sequencing of Lassa virus in Nigeria enabled real-time response to 2018 outbreak

October 18, 2018
Mounting a collaborative, real-time response to a Lassa fever outbreak in early 2018, doctors and scientists in Nigeria teamed up with researchers at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and colleagues to rapidly sequence the ...

Researchers cure drug-resistant infections without antibiotics

October 17, 2018
Biochemists, microbiologists, drug discovery experts and infectious disease doctors have teamed up in a new study that shows antibiotics are not always necessary to cure sepsis in mice. Instead of killing causative bacteria ...

Infectious disease consultation significantly reduces mortality of patients with bloodstream yeast infections

October 17, 2018
In a retrospective cohort study conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Infectious Diseases, patients with candidemia—a yeast infection in the bloodstream—had more positive outcomes as they relate ...

How drug resistant TB evolved and spread globally

October 17, 2018
The most common form of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) originated in Europe and spread to Asia, Africa and the Americas with European explorers and colonialists, reveals a new study led by UCL and the Norwegian Institute ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.