Impact of ursodeoxycholic acid on a CCK1R cholesterol-binding site may contribute to its positive effects in digestive function

Aditya J. Desai, Maoqing Dong, Kaleeckal G. Harikumar, Laurence J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Dysfunction of the type 1 cholecystokinin (CCK) receptor (CCK1R) as a result of increased gallbladder muscularis membrane cholesterol has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cholesterol gallstones. Administration of ursodeoxycholic acid, which is structurally related to cholesterol, has been shown to have beneficial effects on gallstone formation. Our aims were to explore the possible direct effects and mechanism of action of bile acids on CCK receptor function. We studied the effects of structurally related hydrophobic chenodeoxycholic acid and hydrophilic ursodeoxycholic acid in vitro on CCK receptor function in the setting of normal and elevated membrane cholesterol. We also examined their effects on a cholesterol-insensitive CCK1R mutant (Y140A) disrupting a key site of cholesterol action. The results show that, similar to the impact of cholesterol on CCK receptors, bile acid effects were limited to CCK1R, with no effects on CCK2R. Chenodeoxycholic acid had a negative impact on CCK1R function, while ursodeoxycholic acid had no effect on CCK1R function in normal membranes but was protective against the negative impact of elevated cholesterol on this receptor. The cholesterol-insensitive CCK1R mutant Y140A was resistant to effects of both bile acids. These data suggest that bile acids compete with the action of cholesterol on CCK1R, probably by interacting at the same site, although the conformational impact of each bile acid appears to be different, with ursodeoxycholic acid capable of correcting the abnormal conformation of CCK1R in a high-cholesterol environment. This mechanism may contribute to the beneficial effect of ursodeoxycholic acid in reducing cholesterol gallstone formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G377-G386
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 4 2015


  • Bile acids
  • Cholecystokinin
  • Cholesterol
  • Gallstone disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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