Targeting Hepatic Glutaminase 1 Ameliorates Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis by Restoring Very-Low-Density Lipoprotein Triglyceride Assembly

Cell Metab. 2020 Mar 3;31(3):605-622.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2020.01.013. Epub 2020 Feb 21.


Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is characterized by the accumulation of hepatic fat in an inflammatory/fibrotic background. Herein, we show that the hepatic high-activity glutaminase 1 isoform (GLS1) is overexpressed in NASH. Importantly, GLS1 inhibition reduces lipid content in choline and/or methionine deprivation-induced steatotic mouse primary hepatocytes, in human hepatocyte cell lines, and in NASH mouse livers. We suggest that under these circumstances, defective glutamine fueling of anaplerotic mitochondrial metabolism and concomitant reduction of oxidative stress promotes a reprogramming of serine metabolism, wherein serine is shifted from the generation of the antioxidant glutathione and channeled to provide one-carbon units to regenerate the methionine cycle. The restored methionine cycle can induce phosphatidylcholine synthesis from the phosphatidylethanolamine N-methyltransferase-mediated and CDP-choline pathways as well as by base-exchange reactions between phospholipids, thereby restoring hepatic phosphatidylcholine content and very-low-density lipoprotein export. Overall, we provide evidence that hepatic GLS1 targeting is a valuable therapeutic approach in NASH.

Keywords: GLS1; GLS2; NAFLD; NASH; TCA cycle; VLDL; folate cycle; glutaminase; methionine cycle; phospholipids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Choline
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Glutaminase / metabolism*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL / metabolism*
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Methionine
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*


  • Lipoproteins, VLDL
  • Phospholipids
  • Triglycerides
  • very low density lipoprotein triglyceride
  • Methionine
  • Glutaminase
  • Choline