2017 Volume 40 Issue 1 Pages 34-42
Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is a hydrophilic bile acid that possesses many pharmacological effects, including increasing bile flow, changing the hydrophobicity of the bile acid pool, and modulation of the immune response. UDCA has been approved for treating cholestatic liver disease, such as primary biliary cholangitis. However, several unanticipated severe side effects of UDCA are observed in cholestatic patients, and its pharmacological benefits remain controversial. We reported that ezrin-knockdown (Vil2kd/kd) mice exhibited severe hepatic injury because of a functional disorder in bile duct fluidity and alkalinity regulation, resembling human intrahepatic cholestatic disease. Here we used Vil2kd/kd mice as a cholestatic model to investigate the pharmacological effects of UDCA. We investigated the effects of oral and parenteral administration of UDCA on Vil2kd/kd mice. In Vil2kd/kd mice, fed a 0.5% (w/w) UDCA diet for 3 weeks, hepatic injury was exacerbated, although oral administration of a lower dose of UDCA slightly improved hepatic function in Vil2kd/kd mice. On the other hand, intraperitoneal administration of UDCA (50 mg/kg/d) ameliorated hepatic function and markedly reduced periductal fibrosis and cholangiocyte proliferation in Vil2kd/kd mice although biliary pH and HCO3− concentration were not improved. The expression levels of inflammatory and profibrotic genes were also significantly decreased in these mice. Furthermore, UDCA prevented cholangiocytes from hydrophobic bile acid-induced cytotoxicity independent of extracellular pH in in vitro experiments. These results suggest that an appropriate dosage of UDCA can ameliorate the intrahepatic cholestasis in Vil2kd/kd mice without changing the biliary bicarbonate secretion.