Suppressing Hepatic UGT1A1 Increases Plasma Bilirubin, Lowers Plasma Urobilin, Reorganizes Kinase Signaling Pathways and Lipid Species and Improves Fatty Liver Disease

Evelyn A. Bates, Zachary A. Kipp, Genesee J. Martinez, Olufunto O. Badmus, Mangala M. Soundarapandian, Donald Foster, Mei Xu, Justin F. Creeden, Jennifer R. Greer, Andrew J. Morris, David E. Stec, Terry D. Hinds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several population studies have observed lower serum bilirubin levels in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Yet, treatments to target this metabolic phenotype have not been explored. Therefore, we designed an N-Acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) labeled RNAi to target the enzyme that clears bilirubin from the blood, the UGT1A1 glucuronyl enzyme (GNUR). In this study, male C57BL/6J mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD, 60%) for 30 weeks to induce NAFLD and were treated subcutaneously with GNUR or sham (CTRL) once weekly for six weeks while continuing the HFD. The results show that GNUR treatments significantly raised plasma bilirubin levels and reduced plasma levels of the bilirubin catabolized product, urobilin. We show that GNUR decreased liver fat content and ceramide production via lipidomics and lowered fasting blood glucose and insulin levels. We performed extensive kinase activity analyses using our PamGene PamStation kinome technology and found a reorganization of the kinase pathways and a significant decrease in inflammatory mediators with GNUR versus CTRL treatments. These results demonstrate that GNUR increases plasma bilirubin and reduces plasma urobilin, reducing NAFLD and inflammation and improving overall liver health. These data indicate that UGT1A1 antagonism might serve as a treatment for NAFLD and may improve obesity-associated comorbidities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number252
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health R01DK121797 (T.D.H.J.) and R01DK126884 (D.E.S.), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute K01HL125445 (T.D.H.J.) and P01HL05197 (D.E.S.), and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences P20GM104357 (D.E.S.). Research reported in this study was supported by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P30 GM127211. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • HO-1
  • UGT1A1
  • bilirubin
  • inflammation
  • insulin resistance
  • kinomics
  • lipidomics
  • obesity
  • urobilin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology

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