Regulation of Liver Energy Balance by the Nuclear Receptors Farnesoid X Receptor and Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor α.

Kim KH, Moore DD, et al.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

Digestive diseases (Basel, Switzerland). 2017.

The liver undergoes major changes in substrate utilization and metabolic output over the daily feeding and fasting cycle. These changes occur acutely in response to hormones such as insulin and glucagon, with rapid changes in signaling pathways mediated by protein phosphorylation and other post-translational modifications. They are also reflected in chronic alterations in gene expression in response to nutrient-sensitive transcription factors. Among these, the nuclear receptors farnesoid X receptor (FXR) and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor α (PPARα) provide an intriguing, coordinated response to maintain energy balance in the liver. FXR is activated in the fed state by bile acids returning to the liver, while PPARα is activated in the fasted state in response to the free fatty acids produced by adipocyte lipolysis or possibly other signals. Key Messages: Previous studies indicate that FXR and PPARα have opposing effects on each other’s primary targets in key metabolic pathways including gluconeogenesis. Our more recent work shows that these 2 nuclear receptors coordinately regulate autophagy: FXR suppresses this pathway of nutrient and energy recovery, while PPARα activates it. Another recent study indicates that FXR activates the complement and coagulation pathway, while earlier studies identify this as a negative target of PPARα. Since secretion is a very energy- and nutrient-intensive process for hepatocytes, it is possible that FXR licenses it in the nutrient-rich fed state, while PPARα represses it to spare resources in the fasted state. Energy balance is a potential connection linking FXR and PPARα regulation of autophagy and secretion, 2 seemingly unrelated aspects of hepatocyte function.FXR and PPARα act coordinately to promote energy balance and homeostasis in the liver by regulating autophagy and potentially protein secretion. It is quite likely that their impact extends to additional pathways relevant to hepatic energy balance, and that these pathways will in turn interface with other well-known nutrient-responsive mechanisms of energy control.


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