As noted, the molecular structure of intermediate filaments is tissue specific and consists of many different types of proteins. Several diseases are caused by defects in the proper assembly of interme diate filaments. These defects have also been induced experimentally by mutations in intermediate filament genes in laboratory animals. Changes in neurofilaments within brain tissue are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease, which produces neurofibrillary tangles containing neurofilaments and other microtubule-associated proteins. A prominent feature of alcoholic liver cirrhosis is the presence of eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusions composed predominantly of keratin intermediate filaments. These inclusions, called Mallory bodies, are visible in light microscopy within the he-patocyte cytoplasm (Fig. 2.47).
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