A distinct microarray gene expression profile in primary rat hepatocytes incubated with ursodeoxycholic acid

Rui E. Castro, Susana Solá, Xiaoming Ma, Rita M. Ramalho, Betsy T. Kren, Clifford J Steer, Cecília M.P. Rodrigues

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background/Aims: Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) and its taurine-conjugated derivative, TUDCA, modulate cell death and cell cycle regulators, such as E2F-1 and p53. However, precise pathways underlying UDCA's effects are not fully understood. The aim of this study was to identify specific cellular targets of UDCA. Methods: The expression profile of primary rat hepatocytes incubated with UDCA was determined using Affymetrix GeneChip Rat 230A arrays. Hybridization data were processed to identify genes with significant expression changes. RT-PCR and immunoblot analyses of a selected target confirmed microarray data. Results: The results showed that >440 genes were modulated with UDCA by >1.5-fold; ∼25% were significantly different from controls. Genes affected by UDCA included new regulatory molecules, such as Apaf-1. RT-PCR and immunoblotting confirmed a decrease in Apaf-1. Other altered genes were directly involved in cell cycle (cyclin D1, cadherin 1, HMG-box containing protein 1) and apoptosis (prothymosin-α) events. The E2F-1/p53/Apaf-1 pathway appears to be targeted by UDCA. Finally, transcripts for proteins with kinase activity and transcription factors were specifically modulated by TUDCA. Conclusions: This study expands our knowledge of the biological effects of UDCA in hepatocytes. Most of the identified genes represent novel potential targets of UDCA, which may ultimately explain its therapeutic properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-906
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported, in part, by grant POCTI/BCI/44929/2002 from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), Lisbon, Portugal (to C.M.P.R), and Ph.D. fellowships SFRH/BD/12655/2003, SFRH/BD/4823/2001 and SFRH/BD/12641/2003 (to R.E.C., S.S. and R.M.R., respectively) from FCT.


  • Apaf-1
  • Bile acids
  • Cyclin D1
  • DNA microarrays
  • Liver
  • p53


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