An interesting study (MS Desai et al. Hepatology 2017; 65: 189-201) examines the effect of excess bile acids on the heart. The abstract is listed below -I’ve highlighted what I find fascinating:
Cardiac dysfunction in patients with liver cirrhosis is strongly associated with increased serum bile acid concentrations. Here we show that excess bile acids decrease fatty acid oxidation in cardiomyocytes and can cause heart dysfunction, a cardiac syndrome that we term cholecardia. Farnesoid X receptor; Small Heterodimer Partner double knockout mice, a model for bile acid overload, display cardiac hypertrophy, bradycardia, and exercise intolerance. In addition, double knockout mice exhibit an impaired cardiac response to catecholamine challenge. Consistent with this decreased cardiac function, we show that elevated serum bile acids reduce cardiac fatty acid oxidation both in vivo and ex vivo. We find that increased bile acid levels suppress expression of proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator 1α, a key regulator of fatty acid metabolism, and that proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator 1α overexpression in cardiac cells was able to rescue the bile acid-mediated reduction in fatty acid oxidation genes. Importantly, intestinal bile acid sequestration with cholestyramine was sufficient to reverse the observed heart dysfunction in the double knockout mice.
Decreased proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator 1α expression contributes to the metabolic dysfunction in cholecardia so that reducing serum bile acid concentrations may be beneficial against the metabolic and pathological changes in the heart.
My take: There are a lot of reasons why having elevated bile acids is not a good thing. This study provides good evidence that these bile acids have specific cardiac toxicity.