Cholestasis alters brain lipid and bile acid composition and compromises motor function in neonatal piglets

Nicole Lind Henriksen, Svend Høime Hansen, Matthew Domenic Lycas, Xiaoyu Pan, Thomas Eriksen, Lars Søndergaard Johansen, Richard R. Sprenger, Christer Stenby Ejsing, Douglas G. Burrin, Kerstin Skovgaard, Vibeke Brix Christensen, Thomas Thymann, Stanislava Pankratova*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Infants with neonatal cholestasis are prone to neurodevelopmental deficits, however, the underlying pathogenesis is unclear. Lipid malabsorption and accumulation of potentially neurotoxic molecules in the blood such as bile acids are important yet relatively unexplored pathways. Here, we developed a translational piglet model to understand how the molecular bile acid and lipid composition of the brain is affected by this disease and relates to motor function. Piglets (8-days old) had bile duct ligation or sham surgery and were fed a formula diet for 3 weeks. Alongside sensory-motor deficits observed in bile duct-ligated animals, we found a shift toward a more hydrophilic and conjugated bile acid profile in the brain. Additionally, comprehensive lipidomics of the cerebellum revealed a decrease in total lipids including phosphatidylinositols and phosphatidylserines and increases in lysophospholipid species. This was paralleled by elevated cerebellar expression of genes related to inflammation and tissue damage albeit without significant impact on the brain transcriptome. This study offers new insights into the developing brain's molecular response to neonatal cholestasis indicating that bile acids and lipids may contribute in mediating motor deficits.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15368
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number13
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Bile acids
  • Brain
  • Cholestasis
  • Lipids
  • Motor skills


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