Aryl hydrocarbon receptor: a molecular link between postnatal lymphoid follicle formation and diet

Gut Microbes. Nov-Dec 2012;3(6):577-82. doi: 10.4161/gmic.21865. Epub 2012 Aug 22.


Intestinal homeostasis results from a complex mutualism between gut microbiota and host cells. Defining the molecular network regulating such mutualism is currently of increasing interest, as its deregulation is reported to lead to increased susceptibility to infections, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases and cancer. Until now, the focus has been on the mechanism, by which the composition of indigenous microbiota shapes the immune system. In a recent study, we have shown that dietary compounds have also the ability to affect innate immune system. This regulation involves aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a sensor of plant-derived phytochemicals, which mediates the maintenance of Retinoic acid related orphan receptor γ t-expressing innate lymphoid cells (RORγt(+) ILC) in the gut and consequently formation of postnatal lymphoid follicles. Thus, AhR represents the first evidence of a molecular link between diet and immunity at intestinal mucosal surfaces.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / drug effects
  • Lymphoid Tissue / physiology*
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 1, Group F, Member 3 / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / physiology*


  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 1, Group F, Member 3
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon