Over-production of IFN-gamma and IL-12 in AhR-null mice

FEBS Lett. 2005 Nov 21;579(28):6403-10. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2005.10.023. Epub 2005 Nov 2.


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor that mediates toxicity of environmental pollutants such as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. The exposure to AhR agonists results in profound suppression of cellular and humoral immune responses and compromises host to infectious disease. Therefore, to define the role of AhR in the immune response, spleen cells from ovalbumin (OVA)-immunized and naïve mice were removed and stimulated in vitro with either OVA or mitogen concanavalin-A (Con A), respectively. Proliferation, CD19+, F4/80+, CD4+ and CD8+ T cells expansion and cytokines production were measured in C57BL/6-AhR-/- mice (AhR-/-) and compared with immune response in similarly immunized age-matched wild type (AhR+/+) mice. In response to OVA immunization, AhR-/- mice had similar levels of serum OVA-specific IgG2a, IgG1, and IgG2b compared with AhR+/+ animals. However, AhR-/- mice showed splenomegalia and an increase in B cells. No changes were observed on proliferation and IL-4 secretion, although AhR-/- cells produced more IFN-gamma and IL-12 than AhR+/+ cells. Similar results were observed with Con A stimulation, a decrease on IL-5 and no change on IL-2 secretion were observed on AhR-/- cells compared with AhR+/+ cells in response to Con A stimulation. High levels of IFN-gamma mRNA were detected in AhR-/- lymphocytes, but IL-4 mRNA levels in AhR-/- cells were similar to those in AhR+/+ mice. These data suggest that AhR may play an important role in the normal development and function of immune system by down-regulating IFN-gamma and IL-12 expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Concanavalin A / pharmacology
  • Down-Regulation
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-12 / genetics
  • Interleukin-12 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / genetics
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / physiology*
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon
  • Concanavalin A
  • Interleukin-12
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Ovalbumin