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Gastroenterology. 2010 Apr;138(4):1607-17. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2009.12.055. Epub 2010 Jan 11.

Gender dimorphic formation of mouse Mallory-Denk bodies and the role of xenobiotic metabolism and oxidative stress.

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Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-5622, USA.



Mallory-Denk bodies (MDBs) are keratin (K)-rich cytoplasmic hepatocyte inclusions commonly associated with alcoholic steatohepatitis. Given the significant gender differences in predisposition to human alcohol-related liver injury, and the strain difference in mouse MDB formation, we hypothesized that sex affects MDB formation.


MDBs were induced in male and female mice overexpressing K8, which are predisposed to MDB formation, and in nontransgenic mice by feeding the porphyrinogenic compound 3,5-diethoxycarbonyl-1,4-dihydrocollidine (DDC). MDB presence was determined by histologic, immunofluorescence, and biochemical analyses and correlated to liver injury using serologic and pathologic markers. Cytoskeletal and metabolic liver protein analysis, in vitro metabolism studies, and measurement of oxidative stress markers and protoporphyrin-IX were performed.


Male mice formed significantly more MDBs, which was attenuated modestly by estradiol. MDB formation was accompanied by increased oxidative stress. Female mice had significantly fewer MDBs and oxidative stress-related changes, but had increased ductular reaction protoporphyrin-IX accumulation, and MDB-preventive K18 induction. Evaluation of the microsomal cytochrome-P450 (CYP) enzymes revealed significant gender differences in protein expression and activity in untreated and DDC-fed mice, and showed that DDC is metabolized by CYP3A. The changes in CYPs account for the gender differences in porphyria and DDC metabolism. DDC metabolite formation and oxidative injury accumulate on chronic DDC exposure in males, despite more efficient acute metabolism in females.


Gender dimorphic formation of MDBs and porphyria associate with differences in CYPs, oxidative injury, and selective keratin induction. These findings may extend to human MDBs and other neuropathy- and myopathy-related inclusions.


Cytochrome P450; Liver inclusions; keratins

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