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Term Definition

Found in blood and lymph, urea is the primary nitrogenous end-product of protein metabolism, formed in the liver from amino acids and from ammonia compounds. Because urea contains ammonia which is toxic to the body, it must be quickly filtered from the blood by the kidneys, where it is excreted in the urine.

Urea Cycle

A metabolic process in which waste (nitrogen) from the breakdown of proteins in the body is changed by the urea cycle enzymes in the liver into urea in the bloodstream. The blood is then cleansed by the kidneys and ammonia is excreted in the urine.

Urea cycle disorder

A disorder caused by a genetic mutation resulting in deficiency of one of the six enzymes in the urea cycle, located in the liver, responsible for detoxifying ammonia.


The transformation of proteins to a urea compound that can be excreted in the urine.

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