The bile salt export pump (BSEP/ABCB11) is located on the apical membrane and mediates the secretion of bile salts from hepatocytes into the bile. BSEP-mediated bile salt efflux is the rate-limiting step of bile salt secretion and the main driving force of bile flow. BSEP drives and maintains the enterohepatic circulation of bile salts. In recent years, research efforts have been focused on understanding the physiological and pathological functions and regulatory mechanisms of BSEP. These studies elucidated the roles of farnesoid X receptor (FXR), AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), liver receptor homolog-1(LRH-1) and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf-2) in BSEP expression and discovered some regulatory factors which participate in its post-transcriptional regulation. A series of liver diseases have also been shown to be related to BSEP expression and dysfunction, such as cholestasis, drug-induced liver injury, and gallstones. Here, we systematically review and summarize recent literature on BSEP structure, physiological functions, regulatory mechanisms, and related diseases.
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