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Beyond toxicity: aryl hydrocarbon receptor-mediated functions in the immune system

Brigitta Stockinger

Author Affiliations

Division of Molecular Immunology, MRC National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, UK

Journal of Biology 2009, 8:61  doi:10.1186/jbiol170

Published: 17 August 2009


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor is a ligand-activated transcriptional regulator that binds dioxin and other exogenous contaminants and is responsible for their toxic effects, including immunosuppression. New evidence suggests, however, that the aryl hydrocarbon receptor has a physiological role in the immune system, and the immunosuppressive effects of dioxin may reflect a more subtle disruption of the regulatory interactions between immune cells.