TitleAryl Hydrocarbon Receptor-Mediated Perturbations in Gene Expression during Early Stages of CD4(+) T-cell Differentiation.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsRohlman D, Pham D, Yu Z, Steppan LB, Kerkvliet NI
JournalFront Immunol
Date Published2012

Activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) by its prototypic ligand, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), mediates potent suppression of T-cell dependent immune responses. The suppressive effects of TCDD occur early during CD4(+) T-cell differentiation in the absence of effects on proliferation and have recently been associated with the induction of AhR-dependent regulatory T-cells (Treg). Since AhR functions as a ligand-activated transcription factor, changes in gene expression induced by TCDD during the early stages of CD4(+) T-cell differentiation are likely to reflect fundamental mechanisms of AhR action. A custom panel of genes associated with T-cell differentiation was used to query changes in gene expression induced by exposure to 1 nM TCDD. CD4(+) T-cells from AhR(+/+) and AhR(-/-) mice were cultured with cytokines known to polarize the differentiation of T-cells to various effector lineages. Treatment with TCDD induced the expression of Cyp1a1, Cyp1b1, and Ahrr in CD4(+) T-cells from AhR(+/+) mice under all culture conditions, validating the presence and activation of AhR in these cells. The highest levels of AhR activation occurred under Th17 conditions at 24 h and Tr1 conditions at 48 h. Unexpectedly, expression levels of most genes associated with early T-cell differentiation were unaltered by AhR activation, including lineage-specific genes that drive CD4(+) T-cell polarization. The major exception was AhR-dependent up-regulation of Il22 that was seen under all culture conditions. Independent of TCDD, AhR down-regulated the expression of Il17a and Rorc based on increased expression of these genes in AhR-deficient cells across culture conditions. These findings are consistent with a role for AhR in down-regulation of inflammatory immune responses and implicate IL-22 as a potential contributor to the immunosuppressive effects of TCDD.

Alternate JournalFront Immunol
PubMed ID22888330
PubMed Central IDPMC3412388
Grant ListP30 ES000210 / ES / NIEHS NIH HHS / United States
R01 ES016651 / ES / NIEHS NIH HHS / United States
T32 ES007060 / ES / NIEHS NIH HHS / United States