Aryl hydrocarbon receptor control of adaptive immunity

Pharmacol Rev. 2013 Aug 1;65(4):1148-61. doi: 10.1124/pr.113.007823. Print 2013.


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor that belongs to the family of basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors. Although the AhR was initially recognized as the receptor mediating the pathologic effects of dioxins and other pollutants, the activation of AhR by endogenous and environmental factors has important physiologic effects, including the regulation of the immune response. Thus, the AhR provides a molecular pathway through which environmental factors modulate the immune response in health and disease. In this review, we discuss the role of AhR in the regulation of the immune response, the source and chemical nature of AhR ligands, factors controlling production and degradation of AhR ligands, and the potential to target the AhR for therapeutic immunomodulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / immunology*
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon