Modulation of Cell Fate by Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid: All Paths Lead to Mitochondria

  • Susana Solá
  • Maria F. Ribeiro
  • Tânia Genebra
  • Cecília M. P. Rodrigues


Specific endogenous bile acids, such as ursodeoxycholic (UDCA) acid and its taurine conjugated form, tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA), are potent modulators of cell fate by regulating pathways that involve mitochondria. Curiously, emerging evidence suggests that mitochondrial changes induced by TUDCA result from its influence on mitochondrial redox state, mitochondrial membrane permeabilization, mitochondrial apoptosis and mitophagy. In fact, the pleiotropic cellular function of TUDCA ranges from its direct interaction with mitochondrial membranes to modulation of kinase survival pathways or gene expression that ultimately impact on mitochondria. Further, regulation of the functional endoplasmatic reticulum (ER)-mitochondria unit by this bile acid has also been proven as a key counterpart of mitochondria-targeted TUDCA effect. In this chapter, we summarize mechanisms by which this hydrophilic bile acid affects mitochondria and subsequently cell survival, cell cycle and differentiation. We also discuss the potential therapeutic application of TUDCA in several pathological conditions associated with mitochondrial dysfunction.


Bile acids Ursodeoxycholic acid Tauroursodeoxycholic acid Cell cycle Cell death Mitochondria 



We would like to thank all our laboratory colleagues for their support and insightful discussions.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

 The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship, and/or publication of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susana Solá
    • 1
  • Maria F. Ribeiro
    • 1
  • Tânia Genebra
    • 1
  • Cecília M. P. Rodrigues
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Institute for Medicines (iMed.ULisboa), Faculty of PharmacyUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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