Background/Aims: The expression of transporters involved in bile acid homeostasis is differentially regulated during obstructive cholestasis. Since the drug efflux transporter breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) is known to transport bile acids, we investigated whether duodenal BCRP expression could be altered during cholestasis. Methods: Using real-time RT-PCR analysis we determined mRNA expression levels in duodenal tissue of 19 cholestatic patients. Expression levels were compared to 14 healthy subjects. BCRP protein staining was determined in biopsies of 6 cholestatic and 6 healthy subjects by immunohistochemistry. Results: We found that in patients with obstructive cholestasis mean duodenal BCRP mRNA levels were significantly reduced to 53% and mean protein staining was reduced to 57%. Conclusions: BCRP, a transporter for bile acids and numerous drugs, appears to be down-regulated in the human duodenum during cholestasis. The clinical impact of these results has to be investigated in further studies.

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