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J Immunol. 2019 Sep 6. pii: ji1900291. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1900291. [Epub ahead of print]

AhR Activation Leads to Massive Mobilization of Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells with Immunosuppressive Activity through Regulation of CXCR2 and MicroRNA miR-150-5p and miR-543-3p That Target Anti-Inflammatory Genes.

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Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208; and.
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.
Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208; and


The compound 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), an environmental contaminant, is a potent ligand for aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). In the current study, we made an exciting observation that naive C57BL/6 mice that were exposed i.p. to TCDD showed massive mobilization of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in the peritoneal cavity. These MDSCs were highly immunosuppressive and attenuated Con A-induced hepatitis upon adoptive transfer. TCDD administration in naive mice also led to induction of several chemokines and cytokines in the peritoneal cavity and serum (CCL2, CCL3, CCL4, CCL11, CXCL1, CXCL2, CXCL5, CXCL9, G-CSF, GM-CSF, VEGF, and M-CSF) and chemokine receptors on MDSCs (CCR1, CCR5, and CXCR2). Treatment with CXCR2 or AhR antagonist in mice led to marked reduction in TCDD-induced MDSCs. TCDD-induced MDSCs had high mitochondrial respiration and glycolytic rate and exhibited differential microRNA (miRNA) expression profile. Specifically, there was significant downregulation of miR-150-5p and miR-543-3p. These two miRNAs targeted and enhanced anti-inflammatory and MDSC-regulatory genes, including IL-10, PIM1, ARG2, STAT3, CCL11 and its receptors CCR3 and CCR5 as well as CXCR2. The role of miRs in MDSC activation was confirmed by transfection studies. Together, the current study demonstrates that activation of AhR in naive mice triggers robust mobilization of MDSCs through induction of chemokines and their receptors and MDSC activation through regulation of miRNA expression. AhR ligands include diverse compounds from environmental toxicants, such as TCDD, that are carcinogenic to dietary indoles that are anti-inflammatory. Our studies provide new insights on how such ligands may regulate health and disease through induction of MDSCs.


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