A Combination of Transcriptomics and Metabolomics Uncovers Enhanced Bile Acid Biosynthesis in HepG2 Cells Expressing CCAAT/Enhancer-Binding Protein beta (C/EBP beta), Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4 alpha (HNF4 alpha), and Constitutive Androstane Receptor (CAR)

Marina Blazquez, Aitor Carretero, James K. Ellis, Toby J. Athersuch, Rachel Cavill, Timothy M. D. Ebbels, Hector C. Keun, Jose V. Castell, Agustin Lahoz, Roque Bort*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)
49 Downloads (Pure)


The development of hepatoma-based in vitro models to study hepatocyte physiology is an invaluable tool for both industry and academia. Here, we develop an in vitro model based on the HepG2 cell line that produces chenodeoxycholic acid, the main bile acid in humans, in amounts comparable to human hepatocytes. A combination of adenoviral transfections for CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein beta (C/EBP beta), hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF4 alpha), and constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) decreased intracellular glutamate, succinate, leucine, and valine levels in HepG2 cells, suggestive of a switch to catabolism to increase lipogenic acetyl CoA and increased anaplerosis to replenish the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Transcripts of key genes involved in bile acid synthesis were significantly induced by approximately 160-fold. Consistently, chenodeoxycholic acid production rate was increased by more than 20-fold. Comparison between mRNA and bile acid levels suggest that 12-alpha hydroxylation of 7-alpha-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one is the limiting step in cholic acid synthesis in HepG2 cells. These data reveal that introduction of three hepatocyte-related transcription factors enhance anabolic reactions in HepG2 cells and provide a suitable model to study bile acid biosynthesis under pathophysiological conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2732-2741
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • HepG2
  • bile acids
  • hepatic model
  • chenodeoxycholic acid
  • CDCA
  • C/EBP
  • HNF4
  • CAR
  • NMR spectroscopy
  • metabolomics
  • metabonomics

Cite this