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Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 21;8(1):4970. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-23323-4.

Detection of aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonists in human samples.

Author information

1
Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
2
Dept. of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
3
Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. fquintana@rics.bwh.harvard.edu.
4
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, USA. fquintana@rics.bwh.harvard.edu.

Abstract

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor with important functions in the immune response and cancer. AHR agonists are provided by the environment, the commensal flora and the metabolism. Considering AHR physiological functions, AHR agonists may have important effects on health and disease. Thus, the quantification of AHR agonists in biological samples is of scientific and clinical relevance. We compared different reporter systems for the detection of AHR agonists in serum samples of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients, and assessed the influence of transfection methods and cell lines in a reporter-based in vitro assay. While the use of stable or transient reporters did not influence the measurement of AHR agonistic activity, the species of the cell lines used in these reporter assays had important effects on the reporter readings. These observations suggest that cell-specific factors influence AHR activation and signaling. Thus, based on the reported species selectivity of AHR ligands and the cell species-of-origin effects that we describe in this manuscript, the use of human cell lines is encouraged for the analysis of AHR agonistic activity in human samples. These findings may be relevant for the analysis of AHR agonists in human samples in the context of inflammatory and neoplastic disorders.

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