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Pharmacol Rev. 2015;67(2):259-79. doi: 10.1124/pr.114.009001.

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor in barrier organ physiology, immunology, and toxicology.

Author information

1
Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, Düsseldorf, Germany (C.E.); and Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden (A.R.) chesser@uni-duesseldorf.de.
2
Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, Düsseldorf, Germany (C.E.); and Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden (A.R.).

Abstract

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is an evolutionarily old transcription factor belonging to the Per-ARNT-Sim-basic helix-loop-helix protein family. AhR translocates into the nucleus upon binding of various small molecules into the pocket of its single-ligand binding domain. AhR binding to both xenobiotic and endogenous ligands results in highly cell-specific transcriptome changes and in changes in cellular functions. We discuss here the role of AhR for immune cells of the barrier organs: skin, gut, and lung. Both adaptive and innate immune cells require AhR signaling at critical checkpoints. We also discuss the current two prevailing views-namely, 1) AhR as a promiscuous sensor for small chemicals and 2) a role for AhR as a balancing factor for cell differentiation and function, which is controlled by levels of endogenous high-affinity ligands. AhR signaling is considered a promising drug and preventive target, particularly for cancer, inflammatory, and autoimmune diseases. Therefore, understanding its biology is of great importance.

PMID:
25657351
DOI:
10.1124/pr.114.009001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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