The aryl hydrocarbon signaling pathway

I’ll emphasize this densely packed 2021 review’s broccoli sprout compounds / gut microbiota / health interactions:

“The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) senses cues from environmental toxicants and physiologically relevant dietary/microbiota-derived ligands. AhR signaling mediates bidirectional host-microbiome interactions in a wide range of cellular functions in a ligand-, cell type-, species-, and context-specific manner.

Brassicaceae family plants are rich sources of glucobrassicin, the glucosinolate precursor of indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Glucobrassicin can be enzymatically hydrolyzed and converted into I3C by myrosinase, which is present in intact plant cells and gut microbiota.

I3C activates AhR but exhibits low binding affinity. However, in acidic conditions found in the stomach, I3C undergoes acid condensation reaction to generate a variety of more potent AhR ligands, such as 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM).

AhR activation by natural AhR ligands (e.g., I3C) has been shown to prevent pathogenic gut microbial dysbiosis by altering gut microbiome composition in mice with colitis. Depletion of AhR ligands in the diet decreased α diversity of gut microbiota, while I3C supplementation restored microbiota composition.

I3C treatment is effective for treating IBD patients, partly by upregulating IL-22. Targeting AhR could modulate the amplitude and duration of IL-22 signaling to treat IBD patients.

Administration of I3C or DIM significantly reduced the number of tumors in the cecum and small intestine. Supplementation of I3C reduces the number of colorectal tumors in WT, but not in AhR null mice.


Gut microbiota and diet are major sources of AhR ligands that influence the whole body, including gut, liver, brain, and the immune system. Many human diseases are associated with decreased circulating levels of AhR ligands, partly due to dysbiosis.

The ability of AhR signaling to regulate self-renewal and differentiation of intestinal stem cells intrinsically or extrinsically has recently been brought into the spotlight.” “Diet–Host–Microbiota Interactions Shape Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Ligand Production to Modulate Intestinal Homeostasis”

Young hawk


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