The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics

Pregnane X Receptor-Humanized Mice Recapitulate Gender Differences in Ethanol Metabolism but Not Hepatotoxicity.

PMID 26159875


Both human and rodent females are more susceptible to developing alcoholic liver disease following chronic ethanol (EtOH) ingestion. However, little is known about the relative effects of acute EtOH exposure on hepatotoxicity in female versus male mice. The nuclear receptor pregnane X receptor (PXR; NR1I2) is a broad-specificity sensor with species-specific responses to toxic agents. To examine the effects of the human PXR on acute EtOH toxicity, the responses of male and female PXR-humanized (hPXR) transgenic mice administered oral binge EtOH (4.5 g/kg) were analyzed. Basal differences were observed between hPXR males and females in which females expressed higher levels of two principal enzymes responsible for EtOH metabolism, alcohol dehydrogenase 1 and aldehyde dehydrogenase 2, and two key mediators of hepatocyte replication and repair, cyclin D1 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen. EtOH ingestion upregulated hepatic estrogen receptor α, cyclin D1, and CYP2E1 in both genders, but differentially altered lipid and EtOH metabolism. Consistent with higher basal levels of EtOH-metabolizing enzymes, blood EtOH was more rapidly cleared in hPXR females. These factors combined to provide greater protection against EtOH-induced liver injury in female hPXR mice, as revealed by markers for liver damage, lipid peroxidation, and endoplasmic reticulum stress. These results indicate that female hPXR mice are less susceptible to acute binge EtOH-induced hepatotoxicity than their male counterparts, due at least in part to the relative suppression of cellular stress and enhanced expression of enzymes involved in both EtOH metabolism and hepatocyte proliferation and repair in hPXR females.