Bile salts are the major organic solutes in bile and undergo extensive enterohepatic circulation. Hepatocellular bile salt uptake is mediated predominantly by the Na+-taurocholate cotransport proteins Ntcp (rodents) and NTCP (humans) and by the Na+-independent organic anion-transporting polypeptides Oatp1, Oatp2, and Oatp4 (rodents) and OATP-C (humans). After diffusion (bound by intracellular bile salt–binding proteins) to the canalicular membrane, monoanionic bile salts are secreted into bile canaliculi by the bile salt export pump Bsep (rodents) or BSEP (humans). Both belong to the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter superfamily. Dianionic conjugated bile salts are secreted into bile by the multidrug-resistance-associated proteins Mrp2/MRP2. In bile ductules, a minor portion of protonated bile acids and monomeric bile salts are reabsorbed by non-ionic diffusion and the apical sodium-dependent bile salt transporter Asbt/ASBT, transported back into the periductular capillary plexus by Mrp3/MRP3 [and/or a truncated form of Asbt (tAsbt)], and subjected to cholehepatic shunting. The major portion of biliary bile salts is aggregated into mixed micelles and transported into the intestine, where they are reabsorbed by apical Oatp3, the apical sodium-dependent bile salt transporter (ASBT), cytosolic intestinal bile acid-binding protein (IBABP), and basolateral Mrp3/MRP3 and tAsbt. Transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation of these enterohepatic bile salt transporters is closely related to the regulation of lipid and cholesterol homeostasis. Furthermore, defective expression and function of bile salt transporters have been recognized as important causes for various cholestatic liver diseases.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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