Diindoles produced from commensal microbiota metabolites function as endogenous CAR/Nr1i3 ligands

Jiabao Liu, Ainaz Malekoltojari, Anjana Asokakumar, Vimanda Chow, Linhao Li, Hao Li, Marina Grimaldi, Nathanlown Dang, Jhenielle Campbell, Holly Barrett, Jianxian Sun, William Navarre, Derek Wilson, Hongbing Wang, Sridhar Mani, Patrick Balaguer, Sayeepriyadarshini Anakk, Hui Peng, Henry M. Krause

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous studies have demonstrated the correlation between human gut bacteria and host physiology, mediated primarily via nuclear receptors (NRs). Despite this body of work, the systematic identification and characterization of microbe-derived ligands that regulate NRs remain a considerable challenge. In this study, we discover a series of diindole molecules produced from commensal bacteria metabolites that act as specific agonists for the orphan constitutive androstane receptor (CAR). Using various biophysical analyses we show that their nanomolar affinities are comparable to those of synthetic CAR agonists, and that they can activate both rodent and human CAR orthologues, which established synthetic agonists cannot. We also find that the diindoles, diindolylmethane (DIM) and diindolylethane (DIE) selectively up-regulate bona fide CAR target genes in primary human hepatocytes and mouse liver without causing significant side effects. These findings provide new insights into the complex interplay between the gut microbiome and host physiology, as well as new tools for disease treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2563
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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