Differential influences of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor on Th17 mediated responses in vitro and in vivo.
ABSTRACT: The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) has been attributed with anti-inflammatory effects in the development of pathological immune responses leading to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) via the induction of regulatory T cells. In agreement with previously published findings, we find that TCDD administration confers protection from EAE, however, this immuno-modulatory effect was not the consequence of de novo Treg generation, but the inhibition of Th17 cell differentiation. Systemic application of FICZ at the time of immunization also reduced EAE pathology albeit to a lesser degree than TCDD. In vitro Th17 differentiation in the presence of AhR agonists, including TCDD, promoted IL-17 and IL-22 expression, but did not induce Treg differentiation. AhR affinity influenced the amounts of IL-17 and IL-22 protein that was secreted by Th17 cells, but did not seem to affect susceptibility to EAE in vivo. Making use of conditional AhR-deficient mice, we show that the anti-inflammatory effect of TCDD depends on AhR activation in both T cells and dendritic cells, further emphasising the ability of TCDD to interfere with T effector cell differentiation in vivo. The dichotomy between the in vivo and in vitro effects of AhR reveals the complexity of the AhR pathway, which has the capacity of affecting different AhR-expressing cell types involved in mounting immune responses, thus participating in defining their outcome.
Project description:Phenanthrene (Phe), a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), is a major constituent of urban air pollution. There have been conflicting results regarding the role of other AhR ligands 2,3,7,8- tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and 6-formylindolo [3,2-b]carbazole (FICZ) in modifying regulatory T cell populations (Treg) or T helper (Th)17 differentiation, and the effects of Phe have been understudied. We hypothesized that different chemical entities of PAH induce Treg to become either Th2 or Th17 effector T cells through epigenetic modification of FOXP3. To determine specific effects on T cell populations by phenanthrene, primary human Treg were treated with Phe, TCDD, or FICZ and assessed for function, gene expression, and phenotype. Methylation of CpG sites within the FOXP3 locus reduced FOXP3 expression, leading to impaired Treg function and conversion of Treg into a CD4(+)CD25(lo) Th2 phenotype in Phe-treated cells. Conversely, TCDD treatment led to epigenetic modification of IL-17A and conversion of Treg to Th17 T cells. These findings present a mechanism by which exposure to AhR-ligands mediates human T cell responses and begins to elucidate the relationship between environmental exposures, immune modulation, and initiation of human disease.
Project description:FICZ and TCDD, two high-affinity AhR ligands, are reported to have opposite effects on T cell differentiation with TCDD inducing regulatory T cells and FICZ inducing Th17 cells. This dichotomy has been attributed to ligand-intrinsic differences in AhR activation, although differences in sensitivity to metabolism complicate the issue. TCDD is resistant to AhR-induced metabolism and produces sustained AhR activation following a single dose in the ?g/kg range, whereas FICZ is rapidly metabolized and AhR activation is transient. Nonetheless, prior studies comparing FICZ with TCDD have generally used the same 10-50??g/kg dose range, and thus the two ligands would not equivalently activate AhR. We hypothesized that high-affinity AhR ligands can promote CD4+ T cell differentiation into both Th17 cells and Tregs, with fate depending on the extent and duration of AhR activation. We compared the immunosuppressive effects of TCDD and FICZ, along with two other rapidly metabolized ligands (ITE and 11-Cl-BBQ) in an acute alloresponse mouse model. The dose and timing of administration of each ligand was optimized for TCDD-equivalent Cyp1a1 induction. When optimized, all of the ligands suppressed the alloresponse in conjunction with the induction of Foxp3- Tr1 cells on day 2 and the expansion of natural Foxp3+ Tregs on day 10. In contrast, a low dose of FICZ induced transient expression of Cyp1a1 and did not induce Tregs or suppress the alloresponse but enhanced IL-17 production. Interestingly, low doses of the other ligands, including TCDD, also increased IL-17 production on day 10. These findings support the conclusion that the dose and the duration of AhR activation by high-affinity AhR ligands are the primary factors driving the fate of T cell differentiation.
Project description:The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is a cytosolic transcription factor with numerous endogenous and xenobiotic ligands, most notably 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). Recent data suggests that TCDD may induce regulatory T cells, while a second AHR ligand, FICZ, promotes Th17 differentiation. The aim was to examine whether injection of recipient mice with either TCDD or FICZ altered skin allograft rejection in a fully mismatched model. TCDD or FICZ was given to recipient C57BL/6 mice intraperitoneally (IP). Twenty-four hr later, donor skin was grafted from BALB/c mice. An additional dose of FICZ was given on day 3. Treatment with TCDD delayed graft rejection for more than 4 weeks while FICZ treatment accelerated rejection by 1 - 2 days. In vivo exposure with TCDD led to a rise in the frequency of FoxP3(+) CD4(+) T cells in the spleen, while FICZ increased IL-17 secretion by splenocytes from treated animals. Activation of the AHR receptor by different AHR ligands in vivo resulted in opposing effects on skin graft survival. AHR serves as a sensor to environmental signals, with effects on the acquired immune system that may alter outcomes after organ transplantation. This model will be useful to further delineate direct effects of the environment on the immune system and outcomes of organ transplantation.
Project description:This study aimed to investigate the role of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and STAT3 gene during the differentiation of cluster of differentiation (CD)4 T cells into T helper (Th)17 and T regulatory (Treg) cells.First, CD4 T cells were isolated from the spleen of BALB/c mice. Then, stable CD4 T cells expressing STAT3 shRNA were constructed. CD4 T cells were assigned to one of the following treatments: Th17 group: antibodies against CD3 and CD28, 2.5 ng/mL transforming growth factor β (TGF-β)1, 30 ng/mL interleukin (IL)-6, and 30 ng/mL IL-23; 6-formylindolo[3,2-b]carbazole (FICZ) group: antibodies against CD3 and CD28, 2.5 ng/mL TGF-β1, 30 ng/mL IL-6, 30 ng/mL IL-23, and 100 nM FICZ; FICZ + STAT3 RNAi group (shSTAT3 group): antibodies against CD3 and CD28, 2.5 ng/mL TGF-β1, 30 ng/mL IL-6, 30 ng/mL IL-23, 100 nM FICZ, and STAT3 RNAi; naphthoflavone group: antibodies against CD3 and CD28, 2.5 ng/mL TGF-β1, 30 ng/mL IL-6, 30 ng/mL IL-23, and 3 μM naphthoflavone; 5) no antibodies were added in the control group. Later, the proportions of Th17 and Treg cells in each group were measured by flow cytometry; phospho-STAT3 and -STAT5 levels were measured by western blotting; and AhR, STAT3, STAT5, receptor-related orphan nuclear receptor γt (RORγt), FOXP3, T-cell receptor (TCR), CD25, IL-6R, IL-10, and IL-17 mRNA levels were also measured by real-time PCR.Th17 cells showed a rise and Treg cells showed a decrease in the FICZ group, but revised in the shSTAT3 group and the naphthoflavone group. Significant differences were observed in CD25, IL-6R, IL-10, and IL-17 mRNA levels among different groups.STAT3 may cooperate with AhR to regulate the differentiation of both Th17 and Treg cells.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a transcription factor of the bHLH/PAS family, is well characterized to regulate the biochemical and toxic effects of environmental chemicals. More recently, AhR activation has been shown to regulate the differentiation of Foxp3(+) Tregs as well as Th17 cells. However, the precise mechanisms are unclear. In the current study, we investigated the effect of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), a potent AhR ligand, on epigenetic regulation leading to altered Treg/Th17 differentiation, and consequent suppression of colitis.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>Dextran sodium sulphate (DSS) administration induced acute colitis in C57BL/6 mice, as shown by significant weight loss, shortening of colon, mucosal ulceration, and increased presence of CXCR3(+) T cells as well as inflammatory cytokines. Interestingly, a single dose of TCDD (25 µg/kg body weight) was able to attenuate all of the clinical and inflammatory markers of colitis. Analysis of T cells in the lamina propria (LP) and mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN), during colitis, revealed decreased presence of Tregs and increased induction of Th17 cells, which was reversed following TCDD treatment. Activation of T cells from AhR(+/+) but not AhR (-/-) mice, in the presence of TCDD, promoted increased differentiation of Tregs while inhibiting Th17 cells. Analysis of MLN or LP cells during colitis revealed increased methylation of CpG islands of Foxp3 and demethylation of IL-17 promoters, which was reversed following TCDD treatment.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>These studies demonstrate for the first time that AhR activation promotes epigenetic regulation thereby influencing reciprocal differentiation of Tregs and Th17 cells, and amelioration of inflammation.
Project description:Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) has been shown to have profound influence on T cell differentiation, and use of distinct AhR ligands has shown that whereas some ligands induce regulatory T cells (Tregs), others induce Th17 cells. In the present study, we tested the ability of dietary AhR ligands (indole-3-carbinol [I3C] and 3,3'-diindolylmethane [DIM]) and an endogenous AhR ligand, 6-formylindolo(3,2-b)carbazole (FICZ), on the differentiation and functions of Tregs and Th17 cells. Treatment of C57BL/6 mice with indoles (I3C or DIM) attenuated delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) response to methylated BSA and generation of Th17 cells while promoting Tregs. In contrast, FICZ exacerbated the DTH response and promoted Th17 cells. Indoles decreased the induction of IL-17 but promoted IL-10 and Foxp3 expression. Also, indoles caused reciprocal induction of Tregs and Th17 cells only in wild-type (AhR(+/+)) but not in AhR knockout (AhR(-/-)) mice. Upon analysis of microRNA (miR) profile in draining lymph nodes of mice with DTH, treatment with I3C and DIM decreased the expression of several miRs (miR-31, miR-219, and miR-490) that targeted Foxp3, whereas it increased the expression of miR-495 and miR-1192 that were specific to IL-17. Interestingly, treatment with FICZ had precisely the opposite effects on these miRs. Transfection studies using mature miR mimics of miR-490 and miR-1192 that target Foxp3 and IL-17, respectively, or scrambled miR (mock) or inhibitors confirmed that these miRs specifically targeted Foxp3 and IL-17 genes. Our studies demonstrate, to our knowledge for the first time, that the ability of AhR ligands to regulate the differentiation of Tregs versus Th17 cells may depend on miR signature profile.
Project description:Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) activation by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) induces immune suppression. Dendritic cells (DCs) are key antigen presenting cells governing T cell activation and differentiation. However, the consequences of AhR activation in DCs are not fully defined. We hypothesized that AhR activation alters DC differentiation and generates dysfunctional DCs. To test this hypothesis, inflammatory bone marrow-derived DCs (BMDCs) from C57Bl/6 mice were generated in the presence of vehicle or TCDD. TCDD decreased CD11c expression but increased MHC class II, CD86 and CD25 expression on the BMDCs. The effects of TCDD were strictly AhR-dependent but not exclusively DRE-mediated. Similar effects were observed with two natural AhR ligands, 6-formylindolo[3,2-b]carbazole (FICZ) and 2-(1H-Indol-3-ylcarbonyl)-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid (ITE). TCDD increased LPS- and CpG-induced IL-6 and TNF-alpha production by BMDCs but decreased their NO production. TCDD decreased CpG-induced IL-12p70 production by BMDCs but did not affect their secretion of IL-10. TCDD downregulated LPS- and CpG-induced NF-kB p65 levels and induced a trend towards upregulation of RelB levels in the BMDCs. AhR activation by TCDD modulated BMDC uptake of both soluble and particulate antigens. Induction of indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and TGF-beta3 has been implicated in the generation of regulatory T cells following AhR activation. TCDD increased IDO1, IDO2 and TGF-beta3 mRNA levels in BMDCs as compared to vehicle. Despite the induction of regulatory mediators, TCDD-treated BMDCs failed to suppress antigen-specific T cell activation. Thus, AhR activation can directly alter the differentiation and innate functions of inflammatory DCs without affecting their ability to successfully interact with T cells.
Project description: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.
Project description:Th17 cells contribute to host defense on mucosal surfaces but also provoke autoimmune diseases when directed against self-antigens. Identifying therapeutic targets that regulate Th17 cell differentiation and/or cytokine production has considerable value. Here, we study the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-dependent transcriptome in human CD4 T cells treated with Th17-inducing cytokines. We show that the AhR reciprocally regulates IL-17 and IL-22 production in human CD4 T cells. Global gene expression analysis revealed that AhR ligation decreased IL21 expression, correlating with delayed upregulation of RORC during culture with Th17-inducing cytokines. Several of the AhR-dependent genes have known roles in cellular assembly, organization, development, growth and proliferation. We further show that expression of GPR15, GPR55 and GPR68 positively correlates with IL-22 production in the presence of the AhR agonist FICZ. Activation of GPR68 with the lorazepam derivative ogerin resulted in suppression of IL-22 and IL-10 secretion by T cells, with no effect on IL-17. Under neutral Th0 conditions, ogerin and the Gq/11 receptor inhibitor YM254890 blunted IL-22 induction by FICZ. These data reveal the AhR-dependent transcriptome in human CD4 T cells and suggest the mechanism through which the AhR regulates T cell function may be partially dependent on Gq-coupled receptors including GPR68.
Project description:Currently, it is not well understood how ligands of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) modify inflammatory responses triggered by Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists in human dendritic cells (DCs). Here, we show that AhR ligands 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), the tryptophan derivatives 6-formylindolo[3,2-b] carbazole (FICZ), kynurenine (kyn), and the natural dietary compound indole-3-carbinol (I3C) differentially modify cytokine expression in human monocyte-derived DCs (MoDCs). The results show that TLR-activated MoDCs express higher levels of AhR and are more sensitive toward the effects of AhR ligands. Depending on the cytokine, treatment with AhR ligands led to a synergistic or antagonistic effect of the TLR-triggered response in MoDCs. Thus, activation of AhR increased the expression of interleukin (IL)-1?, but decreased the expression of IL-12A in TLR-activated MoDCs. Furthermore, TCDD and FICZ may have opposite effects on the expression of cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1) in TLR8-activated MoDCs indicating that the effect of the specific AhR ligand may depend on the presence of the specific TLR agonist. Gene silencing showed that synergistic effects of AhR ligands on TLR-induced expression of IL-1? require a functional AhR and the expression of NF-?B RelB. On the other hand, repression of IL-12A by TCDD and FICZ involved the induction of the caudal type homeobox 2 (CDX2) transcription factor. Additionally, the levels of DC surface markers were decreased in MoDCs by TCDD, FICZ and I3C, but not by kyn. Overall, these data demonstrate that AhR modulates TLR-induced expression of cytokines and DC-specific surface markers in MoDCs involving NF?B RelB and the immune regulatory factor CDX2.