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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

Citation and License

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.