Open Access Research article

Effect of CAR activation on selected metabolic pathways in normal and hyperlipidemic mouse livers

Tadeja Režen1, Viola Tamasi24, Anita Lövgren-Sandblom3, Ingemar Björkhem3, Urs A Meyer2 and Damjana Rozman1*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Functional Genomics and Bio-Chips, Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Zaloška 4, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

2 Genome Scale Biology, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 70, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland

3 Division of Clinical Chemistry, Karolinska University Hospital at Huddinge, S-14186 Stockholm, Sweden

4 Current address: Semmelweis University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Genetics, Cell- and Immunobiology, H-1445 Budapest, Hungary

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BMC Genomics 2009, 10:384  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-384

Published: 19 August 2009



Detoxification in the liver involves activation of nuclear receptors, such as the constitutive androstane receptor (CAR), which regulate downstream genes of xenobiotic metabolism. Frequently, the metabolism of endobiotics is also modulated, resulting in potentially harmful effects. We therefore used 1,4-Bis [2-(3,5-dichloropyridyloxy)] benzene (TCPOBOP) to study the effect of CAR activation on mouse hepatic transcriptome and lipid metabolome under conditions of diet-induced hyperlipidemia.


Using gene expression profiling with a dedicated microarray, we show that xenobiotic metabolism, PPARα and adipocytokine signaling, and steroid synthesis are the pathways most affected by TCPOBOP in normal and hyperlipidemic mice. TCPOBOP-induced CAR activation prevented the increased hepatic and serum cholesterol caused by feeding mice a diet containing 1% cholesterol. We show that this is due to increased bile acid metabolism and up-regulated removal of LDL, even though TCPOBOP increased cholesterol synthesis under conditions of hyperlipidemia. Up-regulation of cholesterol synthesis was not accompanied by an increase in mature SREBP2 protein. As determined by studies in CAR -/- mice, up-regulation of cholesterol synthesis is however CAR-dependent; and no obvious CAR binding sites were detected in promoters of cholesterogenic genes. TCPOBOP also affected serum glucose and triglyceride levels and other metabolic processes in the liver, irrespective of the diet.


Our data show that CAR activation modulates hepatic metabolism by lowering cholesterol and glucose levels, through effects on PPARα and adiponectin signaling pathways, and by compromising liver adaptations to hyperlipidemia.