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Toxicol Sci. 2009 May;109(1):50-8. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfp044. Epub 2009 Feb 25.

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor activator benzo[a]pyrene enhances vitamin D3 catabolism in macrophages.

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Division of Biochemistry, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Nihon University School of Medicine, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173-8610, Japan.


Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon produced by cigarette combustion, is implicated as a causative agent in smoking-related cancer and atherosclerosis. 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3], a potent ligand for the nuclear receptor vitamin D receptor (VDR), has been shown to decrease the risk of osteoporosis, some types of cancer and cardiovascular disease, suggesting an opposing effect of vitamin D3 to cigarette smoking. In this study, we investigated the effects of BaP on the vitamin D3 signaling pathway. BaP effectively enhanced the 1,25(OH)2D3-dependent induction of cytochrome P450 24A1 (CYP24A1) in human monocyte/macrophage-derived THP-1 cells and breast cancer MCF-7 cells. BaP combination was less or not effective on mRNA expression of CD14, arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase, and cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide in THP-1 cells. BaP also increased the expression of CYP24A1 induced by a non-vitamin D VDR ligand, lithocholic acid acetate. Another aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) ligand, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, enhanced CYP24A1 expression by 1,25(OH)2D3 in THP-1 cells. Treatment of cells with an AhR antagonist and a protein synthesis inhibitor inhibited the enhancing effect of BaP on CYP24A1 induction, indicating that the effects of BaP are mediated by AhR activation and de novo protein synthesis. BaP pretreatment increased 1,25(OH)2D3-dependent recruitment of VDR and retinoid X receptor to the CYP24A1 promoter. Analysis of 1,25(OH)2D3 metabolism showed that BaP enhanced the hydroxylation of 1,25(OH)2D3 by CYP24A1 in THP-1 cells. Thus, AhR activation by BaP stimulates vitamin D3 catabolism. Modulation of vitamin D signaling by AhR may represent a mechanism underlying cigarette smoking-related diseases.

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