Effect of maternal cholestasis and treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid on the expression of genes involved in the secretion of biliary lipids by the neonatal rat liver

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In juvenile rats born from mothers with obstructive cholestasis during pregnancy (OCP), transient latent cholestasis together with alterations in the secretion of biliary lipids have been reported. Here we investigated whether the expression of genes involved in this function is already modified at birth and examined the effect of treating pregnant rats with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA; i.g., 60 μg/100 g b.w./day). Cholanemia was markedly higher in mothers with OCP, and was further increased by UDCA. In the Control pups, cholanemia increased after birth, whereas in OCP and OCP+UDCA pups, hypercholanemia decreased after birth. Steady-state mRNA levels in neonatal liver were measured by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. The expression of basolateral bile acid transporters was not affected by OCP and was unchanged (Oatp1/1a1 and Oatp4/1b2) or moderately increased (Ntcp and Oatp2/1a4) by UDCA. In both groups, the expression of ABC proteins was either not modified (Bsep, Bcrp and Mrp2) or enhanced (Mrp1 and Mrp3), that of phospholipid flippase Mdr2 was not changed, whereas that of cholesterol transporter Abcg5/Abcg8 was impaired. The expression of the nuclear receptor FXR was not affected by OCP or UDCA, whereas that of SHP and key enzymes in bile acid synthesis (Cyp7a1, Cyp8b1 and Cyp27) was increased in both groups. In conclusion, OCP affects the expression in the neonatal liver of genes involved in hepatobiliary function, which cannot be prevented, at this stage, by treating pregnant rats with UDCA, even though this treatment has been found to partially restore normal lipid secretion later during post-natal development.

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