The Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor: Connecting Immunity to the Microenvironment

Rahul Shinde, Tracy L. McGaha*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a cytoplasmic receptor and transcription factor activated through cognate ligand binding. It is an important factor in immunity and tissue homeostasis, and structurally diverse compounds from the environment, diet, microbiome, and host metabolism can induce AhR activity. Emerging evidence suggests that AhR is a key sensor allowing immune cells to adapt to environmental conditions and changes in AhR activity have been associated with autoimmune disorders and cancer. Furthermore, AhR agonists or antagonists can impact immune disease outcomes identifying AhR as a potentially actionable target for immunotherapy. In this review, we describe known ligands stimulating AhR activity, downstream proinflammatory and suppressive mechanisms potentiated by AhR, and how this understanding is being applied to immunopathology to help control disease outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1005-1020
Number of pages16
JournalTrends in Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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