Constitutive release of CPS1 in bile and its role as a protective cytokine during acute liver injury

MJ Park, LG D'Alecy, MA Anderson, V Basrur, YJ Feng, GF Brady, DI Kim, Wu J, AI Nesvizhskii, J Lahann, NW Lukacs, RJ Fontana, Bishr Omary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Carbamoyl phosphate synthetase-1 (CPS1) is the major mitochondrial urea cycle enzyme in hepatocytes. It is released into mouse and human blood during acute liver injury, where is has a short half-life. The function of CPS1 in blood and the reason for its short half-life in serum are unknown. We show that CPS1 is released normally into mouse and human bile, and pathologically into blood during acute liver injury. Other cytoplasmic and mitochondrial urea cycle enzymes are also found in normal mouse bile. Serum, bile, and purified CPS1 manifest sedimentation properties that overlap with extracellular vesicles, due to the propensity of CPS1 to aggregate despite being released primarily as a soluble protein. During liver injury, CPS1 in blood is rapidly sequestered by monocytes, leading to monocyte M2-polarization and homing to the liver independent of its enzyme activity. Recombinant CPS1 (rCPS1), but not control r-transferrin, increases hepatic macrophage numbers and phagocytic activity. Notably, rCPS1 does not activate hepatic macrophages directly; rather, it activates bone marrow and circulating monocytes that then home to the liver. rCPS1 administration prevents mouse liver damage induced by Fas ligand or acetaminophen, but this protection is absent in macrophage-deficient mice. Moreover, rCPS1 protects from acetaminophen-induced liver injury even when given therapeutically after injury induction. In summary, CPS1 is normally found in bile but is released by hepatocytes into blood upon liver damage. We demonstrate a nonenzymatic function of CPS1 as an antiinflammatory protective cytokine during acute liver injury.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)9125–9134
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • bile proteome
  • macrophage polarization
  • acetaminophen
  • Fas ligand
  • Mitochondria

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