Dimethyl Sulfoxide Inhibits Bile Acid Synthesis in Healthy Mice but Does Not Protect Mice from Bile-Acid-Induced Liver Damage

Xi Chen, Huiqiao Li, Yu’e Liu, Jing Qi, Bingning Dong, Shixia Huang, Shangang Zhao, Yi Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bile acids serve a vital function in lipid digestion and absorption; however, their accumulation can precipitate liver damage. In our study, we probed the effects of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) on bile acid synthesis and the ensuing liver damage in mice induced by bile acids. Our findings indicate that DMSO efficaciously curbs bile acid synthesis by inhibiting key enzymes involved in the biosynthetic pathway, both in cultured primary hepatocytes and in vivo. Contrarily, we observed that DMSO treatment did not confer protection against bile-acid-induced liver damage in two distinct mouse models: one induced by a 0.1% DDC diet, leading to bile duct obstruction, and another induced by a CDA-HFD, resulting in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Histopathological and biochemical analyses unveiled a comparable extent of liver injury and fibrosis levels in DMSO-treated mice, characterized by similar levels of increase in Col1a1 and Acta2 expression and equivalent total liver collagen levels. These results suggest that, while DMSO can promptly inhibit bile acid synthesis in healthy mice, compensatory mechanisms might rapidly override this effect, negating any protective impact against bile-acid-induced liver damage in mice. Through these findings, our study underscores the need to reconsider treating DMSO as a mere inert solvent and prompts further exploration to identify more effective therapeutic strategies for the prevention and treatment of bile-acid-associated liver diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1105
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • bile acid
  • dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO)
  • liver damage
  • nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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