Korean J Gastroenterol.  2021 Mar;77(3):123-131. 10.4166/kjg.2020.156.

Atorvastatin Induces FXR and CYP7A1 Activation as a Result of the Sequential Action of PPARγ/PGC-1α/HNF-4α in Hep3B Cells

  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Hospital, Hallym University College of Medicine, Hwaseong, Korea


PPARγ, farnesoid X receptor (FXR) and CYP7A1 are associated with solubility of bile. This study was performed to understand a mechanism and interactions of statin-induced PPARγ, PGC-1α and HNF-4α related to the statin-induced activation of FXR and CYP7A1, and verify whether the mevalonate pathway is involved in the mechanism.
MTT assays were performed using cultured human Hep3B cells to determine the effect of atorvastatin on the cell proliferation. Expression levels of indicated proteins were measured using Western blotting assays by inhibiting the protein expression or not.
Atorvastatin increased expression of PPARγ, PGC-1α, HNF-4α, FXR, and CYP7A1 in Hep3B cells. PPARγ ligand of troglitazone upregulated the expression of PGC-1α, HNF-4α, FXR, and CYP7A1 in Hep3B cells. Silencing of PPARγ, PGC1α, and HNF4α using respective siRNA demonstrated that atorvastatin-induced FXR and CYP7A1 activation required sequential action of PPARγ /PGC-1α/HNF-4α. The silencing of PPARγ completely inhibited atorvastatin-induced PGC-1α expression, and the PGC1α silencing partially inhibited atorvastatin-induced PPARγ expression. The inhibition of HNF4α did not affect atorvastatin-induced PPARγ expression, but partially inhibited atorvastatin-induced PGC-1α expression. Besides, mevalonate completely reversed the effect of atorvastatin on PPARγ, PGC-1α, HNF-4α, FXR, and CYP7A1.
Atorvastatin induces FXR and CYP7A1 activation as a result of sequential action of PPARγ/PGC-1α/HNF-4α in human hepatocytes. We propose that atorvastatin enhances solubility of cholesterol in bile by simultaneously activating of FXR and CYP7A1.


Gallstones; Statin; PGC-1α; HNF-4α; FXR; CYP7A1
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