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Maternal glucose homeostasis is impaired in mouse models of gestational cholestasis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Elena Bellafante, Saraid Mcilvride, Vanya Nikolova, Hei Man Fan, Luiza Borges Manna, Jenny Chambers, Mavis MacHirori, Anita Banerjee, Kevin Murphy, Marcus G Martineau, Kristina Schoonjans, Hanns-Ulrich Marschall, Peter Jones, Catherine Williamson

Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 May 2020


King's Authors


Women with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), a disorder characterised by raised serum bile acids, are at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and have impaired glucose tolerance whilst cholestatic. FXR and TGR5 are modulators of glucose metabolism, and FXR activity is reduced in normal pregnancy, and further in ICP. We aimed to investigate the role of raised serum bile acids, FXR and TGR5 in gestational glucose metabolism using mouse models. Cholic acid feeding resulted in reduced pancreatic β-cell proliferation and increased apoptosis in pregnancy, without altering insulin sensitivity, suggesting that raised bile acids affect β-cell mass but are insufficient to impair glucose tolerance. Conversely, pregnant Fxr-/- and Tgr5-/- mice are glucose intolerant and have reduced insulin secretion in response to glucose challenge, and Fxr-/- mice are also insulin resistant. Furthermore, fecal bile acids are reduced in pregnant Fxr-/- mice. Lithocholic acid and deoxycholic acid, the principal ligands for TGR5, are decreased in particular. Therefore, we propose that raised serum bile acids and reduced FXR and TGR5 activity contribute to the altered glucose metabolism observed in ICP.

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