Cholestasis is defined as a reduction of bile secretion caused by a dysfunction of bile formation. Insufficient bile secretion into the intestine undermines the formation of micelles, which may result in the reduced absorption of lipids and fat-soluble vitamins. Here, we investigated the retinol homeostasis and the alterations of retinol metabolism-related genes, including β-carotene 15,15′ monooxygenase (BCMO), lecithin:retinol acyltransferase (LRAT), aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), cytochrome P450 26A1 (CYP26A1), and retinoic acid receptors (RAR) β, in a α-naphthyl isothiocyanate (ANIT)-induced cholestasis rat model. Moreover, we examined the expression of the farnesoid X receptor (FXR) target genes. Our results showed that plasma retinol levels were decreased in ANIT rats compared to control rats. On the contrary, hepatic retinol levels were not different between the two groups. The expression of FXR target genes in the liver and intestine of cholestasis model rats was repressed. The BCMO expression was decreased in the liver and increased in the intestine of ANIT rats compared to control rats. Finally, the hepatic expression of LRAT, RARβ, and ALDH1A1 in cholestatic rats was decreased compared to the control rats, while the CYP26A1 expression of the liver was not altered. The increased expression of intestinal BCMO in cholestasis model rats might compensate for decreased circulatory retinol levels. The BCMO expression might be regulated in a tissue-specific manner to maintain the homeostasis of retinol.
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