The G-protein coupled bile salt receptor TGR5 is expressed in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells


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Sinusoidal endothelial cells (SEC) constitute a permeable barrier between hepatocytes and blood. SEC are exposed to high concentrations of bile salts from the enterohepatic circulation. Whether SEC are responsive to bile salts is unknown. TGR5, a G-protein–coupled bile acid receptor, which triggers cAMP formation, has been discovered recently in macrophages. In this study, rat TGR5 was cloned and antibodies directed against the C-terminus of rat TGR5 were developed, which detected TGR5 as a glycoprotein in transfected HepG2-cells. Apart from Kupffer cells, TGR5 was detected in SEC of rat liver. SEC expressed TGR5 over the entire acinus, whereas endothelial cells of the portal or central veins were not immunoreactive toward TGR5 antibodies. In isolated SEC, TGR5 mRNA and protein were detected by reverse transcription (RT) PCR, immunofluorescence microscopy, and Western blot analysis. Bile salts increased cAMP in isolated SEC and induced mRNA expression of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), a known cAMP-dependent gene. In addition, bile acids activated eNOS by phosphorylation of eNOS at amino acid position 1177. In line with eNOS activation, bile acids induced NO production in liver slices. This is the first report on the expression of TGR5 in SEC. Conclusion: The data suggest that SEC are directly responsive toward specific bile salts. Regulation of eNOS in SEC by TGR5 connects bile salts with hepatic hemodynamics. This is of particular importance in cholestatic livers when bile salt concentrations are increased. (HEPATOLOGY 2007;45:695–704.)