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Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Δ4-3-oxosteroid 5β-reductase is member D1 of the aldo-keto reductase family 1 (AKR1D1), which catalyzes 5β-reduction of molecules with a 3-oxo-4-ene structure. Bile acid intermediates and most of the steroid hormones carry the 3-oxo-4-ene structure. Therefore, AKR1D1 plays critical roles in both bile acid synthesis and steroid hormone metabolism. Currently our understanding on transcriptional regulation of AKR1D1 under physiological and pathological conditions is very limited. In this study, we investigated the regulatory effects of primary bile acids, chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA) and cholic acid (CA), on AKR1D1 expression. The expression levels of AKR1D1 mRNA and protein in vitro and in vivo following bile acid treatments were determined by real-time PCR and Western blotting. We found that CDCA markedly repressed AKR1D1 expression in vitro in human hepatoma HepG2 cells and in vivo in mice. On the contrary, CA significantly upregulated AKR1D1 expression in HepG2 cells and in mice. Further mechanistic investigations revealed that the farnesoid x receptor (FXR) signaling pathway was not involved in regulating AKR1D1 by bile acids. Instead, CDCA and CA regulated AKR1D1 through the mitogen-activated protein kinases/c-Jun N-terminal kinases (MAPK/JNK) signaling pathway. Inhibition of the MAPK/JNK pathway effectively abolished CDCA and CA-mediated regulation of AKR1D1. It was thus determined that AKR1D1 expression was regulated by CDCA and CA through modulating the MAPK/JNK signaling pathway. In conclusion, AKR1D1 expression was differentially regulated by primary bile acids through negative and positive feedback mechanisms. The findings indicated that both bile acid concentrations and compositions play important roles in regulating AKR1D1 expression, and consequently bile acid synthesis and steroid hormone metabolism.

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