Activation of liver X receptor sensitizes mice to gallbladder cholesterol crystallization


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


Gallstone disease is a hepatobiliary disorder due to biochemical imbalances in the gallbladder bile. In this report, we show that activation of nuclear receptor liver X receptor (LXR) sensitized mice to lithogenic diet–induced gallbladder cholesterol crystallization, which was associated with dysregulation of several hepatic transporters that efflux cholesterol, phospholipids, and bile salts. The combined effect of increased biliary concentrations of cholesterol and phospholipids and decreased biliary concentrations of bile salts in LXR-activated mice led to an increased cholesterol saturation index and the formation of cholesterol crystals. Interestingly, the lithogenic effect of LXR was completely abolished in the low-density lipoprotein receptor (Ldlr) null background or when the mice were treated with Ezetimibe, a cholesterol-lowering drug that blocks intestinal dietary cholesterol absorption. These results suggest that LDLR-mediated hepatic cholesterol uptake and intestinal cholesterol absorption play an essential role in LXR-promoted lithogenesis. Conclusion: The current study has revealed a novel lithogenic role of LXR as well as a functional interplay between LXR and LDLR in gallbladder cholesterol crystallization and possibly cholesterol gallstone disease (CGD). We propose that LXR is a lithogenic factor and that the LXR transgenic mice may offer a convenient CGD model to develop therapeutic interventions for this disease. (HEPATOLOGY 2008.)