The aryl hydrocarbon receptor and light

Biol Chem. 2006 Sep;387(9):1149-57. doi: 10.1515/BC.2006.143.


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor that has been intensively studied with respect to the toxicity of xenobiotics. However, its function in response to light has never been summarized. Here, we provide an overview of AhR activation by light with a focus on the role of tryptophan in light-induced AhR activation. We discuss the involvement of the AhR in different biological rhythms and speculate on the possible role of the AhR in UV-induced responses in skin. Furthermore, this review points out future research needs in this field.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / drug effects
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / physiology*
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / radiation effects*
  • Tryptophan / pharmacology
  • Tryptophan / radiation effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon
  • Tryptophan