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The Role of the Gut Microbiota in Bile Acid Metabolism

Oscar Ramirez-Pérez, Vania Cruz-Ramón, Paulina Chinchilla-López, Nahum Méndez-Sánchez


The gut microbiota has been considered a cornerstone of maintaining the health status of its human host because it not only facilitates harvesting of nutrients and energy from ingested food, but also produces numerous metabolites that can regulate host metabolism. One such class of metabolites, the bile acids, are synthesized from cholesterol in the liver and further metabolized by the gut microbiota into secondary bile acids. These bioconversions modulate the signaling properties of bile acids through the nuclear farnesoid X receptor and the G protein-coupled membrane receptor 5, which regulate diverse metabolic pathways in the host. In addition, bile acids can regulate gut microbial composition both directly and indirectly by activation of innate immune response genes in the small intestine. Therefore, host metabolism can be affected by both microbial modifications of bile acids, which leads to altered signaling via bile acid receptors, and by alterations in the composition of the microbiota. In this review, we mainly describe the interactions between bile acids and intestinal microbiota and their roles in regulating host metabolism, but we also examine the impact of bile acid composition in the gut on the intestinal microbiome and on host physiology.

Key words. Bile acids., Gut microbiota., Dysbiosis., Health and disease.

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The Official Journal of the Mexican Association of Hepatology, the Latin-American Association for the Study of the Liver and the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver

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