2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin promotes migration ability of primary cultured rat astrocytes via aryl hydrocarbon receptor

J Environ Sci (China). 2019 Feb;76:368-376. doi: 10.1016/j.jes.2018.05.030. Epub 2018 Jun 9.


Emerging evidence showed that 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) could induce expression of certain reactivation-associated genes in astrocytes, however, the consequent cellular effects and molecular mechanisms are still unclear. During the process of astrocyte reactivation, migration is a critical cellular event. In the present study, we employed wound-healing assay and Transwell® motility assay to explore the effects of TCDD on cell migration in primary cultured rat cortical astrocytes. We found that upon TCDD treatments at relative low concentrations (10-10 and/or 10-9 mol/L), the ability of primary astrocytes to migrate horizontally and vertically was promoted. In line with this cellular effect, the mRNA expression of two pro-migratory genes, including cell division cycle 42 (CDC42) and matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2) was induced by TCDD treatment. Dioxin exerts its toxic effects mainly through aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) pathway. So the role of AhR pathway in the pro-migratory effects of TCDD was examined using an AhR antagonist, CH223191. We found that application of CH223191 significantly reversed the pro-migratory effects of TCDD. Interestingly, the basal ability of horizontal migration as well as basal levels of CDC42 and MMP2 expression were dramatically reduced suggesting a possible physiological role of AhR in maintaining the endogenous migration ability of the primary astrocytes. These findings support the notion that dioxin promotes astrocyte reactivation at molecular and cellular levels.

Keywords: 2, 3, 7, 8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD); Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) pathway; Astrocyte; Gene expression; Migration.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology*
  • Astrocytes / drug effects*
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / metabolism*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon