Background & Aims Bile acids (BA) are increasingly recognized as important modulators of liver regeneration. Increased enterohepatic BA flux has been proposed to generate specific signals that activate hepatocyte proliferation after partial hepatectomy (PH). We have investigated the role of the BA membrane transporter Mrp3 (Abcc3), which is expressed in the liver and gut, in the hepatic growth response elicited by BA and in liver regeneration after PH.
Methods Liver growth and regeneration, and the expression of growth-related genes, were studied in Mrp3+/+ and Mrp3¿/¿ mice fed a cholic acid (CA) supplemented diet and after 2/3 PH. Activation of the BA receptor FXR was measured in mice after in vivo transduction of the liver with a FXR-Luciferase reporter plasmid. BA levels were measured in portal serum and liver tissue by high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.
Results Liver growth elicited by CA feeding was significantly reduced in Mrp3¿/¿ mice. These animals showed reduced FXR activation in the liver after CA administration and decreased portal serum levels of BA. Liver regeneration after PH was significantly delayed in Mrp3-deficient mice. Proliferation-related gene expression and peak DNA synthesis in Mrp3¿/¿ mice occurred later than in wild types, coinciding with a retarded elevation in intra-hepatic BA levels.
Conclusions Lack of Abcc3 expression markedly impairs liver growth in response to BA and after PH. Our data suggest that Mrp3 plays a non-redundant role in the regulation of BA flux during liver regeneration.