Paediatrics Publications

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Scientific Reports





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Bile acids are endogenous ligands of nuclear receptors pregnane X (PXR) and farnesoid X (FXR). PXR and FXR regulate pathways that are impaired in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Decreases in PXR and FXR activity are documented in IBD; however reasons for this are unknown. We aimed to assess the effect of Crohn’s disease (CD) on the plasma bile acid composition in vivo and the resultant impact on PXR and FXR activation. A cross-sectional study evaluated the plasma concentrations of 12 bile acids in addition to 4β-hydroxycholesterol (4βOHC), an in vivo probe of the PXR target-gene cytochrome 3A4 (CYP3A4) and the FXR target-gene, fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 19 in individuals with (n = 74) and without (n = 71) CD. An in vitro model was used to assess the impact of CD-specific changes in the plasma bile acid composition on PXR and FXR activation. Decreases in glycochenodeoxycholic acid, taurocholic acid and lithocholic acid were seen in CD with increases in glycodeoxycholic acid and glycocholic acid relative to the total plasma bile acid profile. In vitro, increasing concentrations of bile acids applied in the same ratio as seen in the study cohorts resulted in decreased activation of both PXR and FXR in the CD model. In vivo, plasma 4βOHC (CD = 18.68 ng/ml ± 13.02 ng/ml, non-CD = 46.38 ng/ml ± 40.70 ng/ml, p ≤ 0.0001) and FGF19 (CD = 0.276 pg/L ± 0.189 pg/L, non-CD = 0.485 pg/L ± 0.42 pg/L, p = 0.0002) concentrations were lower in CD versus controls. Ultimately, CD-specific changes in the plasma bile acid composition lead to reduced activation of FXR and PXR target genes in vitro and in vivo.