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Therapeutic potential of aryl hydrocarbon receptor in autoimmunity


Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a type of transcriptional factor, is widely expressed in immune cells. The activation of AhR signaling pathway depends on its ligands, which exist in environment and can also be produced by metabolism. Normal expressions of AhR and AhR-mediated signaling may be essential for immune responses, and effects of AhR signaling on the development and function of innate and adaptive immune cells have also been revealed in previous studies. Recent studies also indicate that aberrant AhR signaling may be related to autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), multiple sclerosis (MS), autoimmune uveitis (AU), autoimmune diabetes, Behcet’s disease (BD) and myasthenia gravis (MG). Moreover, administration of AhR ligands or drugs has been proven effective for improving pathological outcomes in some autoimmune diseases or models. In this review, we summarize the effects of AhR on several innate and adaptive immune cells associated with autoimmunity, and the mechanism on how AhR participates in autoimmune diseases. In addition, we also discuss therapeutic potential and application prospect of AhR in autoimmune diseases, so as to provide valuable information for exploring novel and effective approaches to autoimmune disease treatments.

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This study was funded by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81872687).

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Wang, X., Cao, F., Zhang, Y. et al. Therapeutic potential of aryl hydrocarbon receptor in autoimmunity. Inflammopharmacol 28, 63–81 (2020).

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  • Aryl hydrocarbon receptor
  • AhR
  • Autoimmunity
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Therapeutics