The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor recognized for its role in xenobiotic metabolism. The physiologic function of AHR has expanded to include roles in immune regulation, organogenesis, mucosal barrier function, and the cell cycle. These functions are likely dependent upon ligandmediated activation of the receptor. High-affinity ligands of AHR have been classically defined as xenobiotics, such as polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins. Identification of endogenous AHR ligands is key to understanding the physiologic functions of this enigmatic receptor. Metabolic pathways targeting the amino acid tryptophan and indole can lead to a myriad of metabolites, some of which are AHR ligands. Many of these ligands exhibit species selective preferential binding to AHR. The discovery of specific tryptophan metabolites as AHR ligands may provide insight concerning where AHR is activated in an organism, such as at the site of inflammation and within the intestinal tract.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pharmaceutical Science