The overall transport of bile salts across the hepatocyte is characterized as a carrier-mediated process whose rate-limiting step is biliary secretion. Specific bile salt binding proteins have been identified in liver surface membrane fractions and were postulated to represent the initial interaction in bile salt translocation across both the sinusoidal and canalicular membranes. To test this hypothesis, cycloheximide was administered to rats to inhibit hepatic protein synthesis. 16 h after cycloheximide administration [14C]leucine incorporation into hepatic protein was inhibited by 93% at 1 h and 47% at 12 h. However, values of liver function tests were not increased, although serum albumin, serum alanine amino-transferase, and alkaline phosphatase were significantly decreased. Light and electron microscopy did not demonstrate necrosis or fat accumulation. The latter demonstrated minimal disorganization of rough endoplasmic reticulum and occasional lamellar whorls. 16 h after cycloheximide administration bile salt independent bile flow, basal bile salt excretion, and basal bile flow were unaltered, but the maximum bile salt transport capacity was reduced to 62% of control and 24 h later to 38%. Decreased bile salt transport was reversible, for it returned to control values after 48 h, when hepatic protein synthesis was also normal. Maximum bromosulfophthalein (BSP) transport, on the other hand, was reduced after 16 h to only 85% of control. Both bile salt and BPS maximum transport capacities decreased with time during inhibition of protein synthesis, apparently following first order kinetics. It was estimated that their half-lives are 20 h for bile salt transport and 55 h for BSP transport. These different turnover rates suggest that cycloheximide does not decrease active transport through generalized hepatic dysfunction or alteration of high energy sources possibly required for transport. The maximum number of [14C]cholic acid binding sites in liver surface membrane fractions was determined by an ultrafiltration assay. They were reduced to 68% of control after 16 h of cycloheximide and to 25% after 24 h. This reduction in the number of binding sites is apparently selective, for the activities of the liver surface membrane enzymes (Na+-K+)ATPase, Mg++-ATPase, and 5'-nucleotidase were not significantly changed. The associated alterations in bile salt transport and the maximum number of binding sites after cycloheximide administration suggests that these receptors may be the bile salt carriers.
M C Gonzalez, E Sutherland, F R Simon