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1.  HSP90 Inhibitors Suppress Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor-Mediated Activation of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 Transcription and DNA Adduct Formation 
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a client protein of heat shock protein 90 (HSP90), plays a significant role in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) induced carcinogenesis. Tobacco smoke, a source of PAHs, activates the AhR leading to enhanced transcription of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1, which encode proteins that convert PAHs to genotoxic metabolites. The main objectives of this study were to determine whether HSP90 inhibitors suppress PAH-mediated induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 or block benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) induced formation of DNA adducts. Treatment of cell lines derived from oral leukoplakia (MSK-Leuk1) or esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (KYSE450) with a saline extract of tobacco smoke, B[a]P or dioxin induced CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 transcription resulting in enhanced levels of message and protein. Inhibitors of HSP90 (17-allylamino-demethoxygeldanamycin, 17-AAG; celastrol) suppressed these inductive effects of PAHs. Treatment with 17-AAG and celastrol also caused a rapid and marked decrease in amounts of AhR protein without modulating levels of HSP90. The formation of B[a]P induced DNA adducts in MSK-Leuk1 cells was inhibited by 17-AAG, celastrol and α-naphthoflavone, a known AhR antagonist. The reduction in B[a]P induced DNA adducts was due, at least in part, to reduced metabolic activation of B[a]P. Collectively, these results suggest that 17-AAG and celastrol, inhibitors of HSP90, suppress the activation of AhR-dependent gene expression leading, in turn, to reduced formation of B[a]P induced DNA adducts. Inhibitors of HSP90 may have a role in chemoprevention in addition to cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC2680610  PMID: 19138996
Heat Shock Protein 90 Inhibitors; Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor; Tobacco Smoke; Cytochrome P450; DNA adduct
2.  The chemokine CXCL13 in lung cancers associated with environmental polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons pollution 
eLife  null;4:e09419.
More than 90% of lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoke and air pollution, with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as key carcinogens. In Xuanwei City of Yunnan Province, the lung cancer incidence is among the highest in China, attributed to smoky coal combustion-generated PAH pollution. Here, we screened for abnormal inflammatory factors in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) from Xuanwei and control regions (CR) where smoky coal was not used, and found that a chemokine CXCL13 was overexpressed in 63/70 (90%) of Xuanwei NSCLCs and 44/71 (62%) of smoker and 27/60 (45%) of non-smoker CR patients. CXCL13 overexpression was associated with the region Xuanwei and cigarette smoke. The key carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) induced CXCL13 production in lung epithelial cells and in mice prior to development of detectable lung cancer. Deficiency in Cxcl13 or its receptor, Cxcr5, significantly attenuated BaP-induced lung cancer in mice, demonstrating CXCL13’s critical role in PAH-induced lung carcinogenesis.
eLife digest
Lung cancer causes the most cancer deaths worldwide. For decades, people have known that lung cancer is associated with environmental factors, and both cigarette smoke and air pollution are known to cause cancers in humans. Smoke and air pollution both contain chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (or PAHs). These chemicals cause chronic inflammation of the lung, which in turn is a major risk factor for developing lung cancer.
However, it is unclear exactly how PAHs trigger inflammation and cancer. Xuanwei City in China is suited to the study of this question because until the 1970s its inhabitants used 'smoky coal' for cooking in unventilated indoor spaces; this produced high levels of small particles that contain high concentrations of PAHs. Women from this region, who traditionally do most of the cooking, have rates of lung cancer comparable to those of men. In other parts of China a woman’s chance of getting lung cancer is approximately half that of a man’s. Therefore, Xuanwei City provides a setting in which air pollution is a main contributor to lung cancer risk.
Wang, Cheng et al. have now compared the levels of certain proteins (which are linked to inflammation) in lung cancer patients from Xuanwei City with those in control regions of China. The level of one such protein marker, called CXCL13, was particularly high in almost all patients from Xuanwei City, but only highly expressed in half of the patients from the control regions. Moreover, there was also a clear link between cigarette smoke and CXCL13 expression because, in control regions, smokers were much more likely to have high levels of CXCL13 than non-smokers. To test whether PAHs cause CXCL13 expression, Wang, Cheng et al. first exposed normal lung epithelial cells, cancer cells and then mice to a PAH. These experiments showed that CXCL13 levels did indeed increase and the mice developed lung tumours. However, when the genes for CXCL13 or its binding partner were deleted, the mice no longer got cancer when exposed to the PAH. This shows that CXCL13 signalling is an important mechanism by which PAHs cause lung cancer. Lastly, further experiments showed that CXCL13’s binding partner is highly expressed on some immune cells that can promote lung cancer.
Importantly, the over-expression of CXCL13 occurred before the lung tumours developed. This might provide a new treatment strategy in which CXCL13 signalling could be inhibited after the exposure to PAHs. Future studies may now focus on discovering new drugs, or modifying existing drugs, to achieve this goal.
PMCID: PMC4764582  PMID: 26565418
CXCL13; environmental pollutant; lung cancer; Human
3.  Knockdown of AHR1A but not AHR1B exacerbates PAH and PCB-126 toxicity in zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos 
Aquatic toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands)  2013;0:10.1016/j.aquatox.2013.09.007.
Various environmental contaminants are known agonists for the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), which is highly conserved across vertebrate species. Due to gene duplication events before and after the divergence of ray- and lobe-finned fishes, many teleosts have multiple AHR isoforms. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) has three identified AHRs: AHR1A and AHR1B, the roles of which are not yet well elucidated, and AHR2, which has been shown to mediate the toxicity of various anthropogenic compounds including dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In this study, we sought to explore the role of the two AHR1 isoforms in PAH- and PCB-induced toxicity in zebrafish embryos utilizing morpholino gene knockdown of the AHR isoforms. Knockdown of AHR1B did not affect the toxicity of PAH mixtures or PCB-126, whereas knockdown of AHR1A exacerbated the cardiac toxicity caused by PAH mixtures and PCB-126. Knockdown of AHR1A did not impact the mRNA expression of CYP1A, CYP1B1, and CYP1C1 in exposed embryos, but it did result in increased CYP1 activity in exposed embryos. As has been shown previously, knockdown of AHR2 resulted in protection from PAH- and PCB-induced cardiac deformities and prevented CYP1 enzyme activity in exposed embryos. Co-knockdown of AHR1A and AHR2 resulted in an intermediate response compared to knockdown of AHR1A and AHR2 individually; co-knockdown did not exacerbate nor protect from PAH-induced deformities and embryos exhibited an intermediate CYP1 enzyme activity response. In contrast, co-knockdown of AHR1A and AHR2 did protect from PCB-126-induced deformities. These results suggest that AHR1A is not a nonfunctional receptor as previously thought and may play a role in the normal physiology of zebrafish during development and/or the toxicity of environmental contaminants in early life stages.
PMCID: PMC3837554  PMID: 24084256
Aryl hydrocarbon receptor; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon; PCB-126; zebrafish; cardiotoxicity; morpholino
4.  Time Trends of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Exposure in New York City from 2001 to 2012: Assessed by Repeat Air and Urine Samples 
Environmental research  2014;131:95-103.
Exposure to air pollutants including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and specifically pyrene from combustion of fuel oil, coal, traffic and indoor sources, has been associated with adverse respiratory health outcomes. However, time trends of airborne PAH and metabolite levels detected via repeat measures over time have not yet been characterized. We hypothesized that PAH levels, measured repeatedly from residential indoor and outdoor monitors, and children’s urinary concentrations of PAH metabolites, would decrease following policy interventions to reduce traffic-related air pollution.
Indoor PAH (particle- and gas-phase) were collected for two weeks prenatally (n=98), at age 5/6 years (n=397) and age 9/10 years (n=198) since 2001 and at all three age-points (n=27). Other traffic-related air pollutants (black carbon and PM2.5) were monitored indoors simultaneous with PAH monitoring at ages 5/6 (n=403) and 9/10 (n=257) between 2005 and 2012. One third of the homes were selected across seasons for outdoor PAH, BC and PM2.5 sampling. Using the same sampling method, ambient PAH, BC and PM2.5 also were monitored every two weeks at a central site between 2007 and 2012. PAH were analyzed as semivolatile PAH (e.g., pyrene; MW 178–206) and the sum of eight nonvolatile PAH (Σ8PAHnonvolatile; MW 228–278). A spot urine sample was collected from children at child ages 3, 5, 7 and 9 between 2001 and 2012 and analyzed for 10 PAH metabolites.
Modest declines were detected in indoor BC and PM2.5 levels between 2005 and 2012 (Annual percent change [APC]=−2.08% [p=0.010] and −2.18% [p=0.059] for BC and PM2.5, respectively), while a trend of increasing pyrene levels was observed in indoor and outdoor samples, and at the central site during the comparable time periods (APC=4.81%, 3.77% and 7.90%, respectively; p<0.05 for all). No significant time trend was observed in indoor Σ8PAHnonvolatile levels between 2005 and 2012; however, significant opposite trends were detected when analyzed seasonally (APC=−8.06% [p<0.01], 3.87% [p<0.05] for nonheating and heating season, respectively). Similarly, heating season also affected the annual trends (2005–2012) of other air pollutants: the decreasing BC trend (in indoor/outdoor air) was observed only in the nonheating season, consistent with dominating traffic sources that decreased with time; the increasing pyrene trend was more apparent in the heating season. Outdoor PM2.5 levels persistently decreased over time across the seasons. With the analyses of data collected over a longer period of time (2001–2012), a decreasing trend was observed in pyrene (APC=−2.76%; p<0.01), mostly driven by measures from the nonheating season (APC=−3.54%; p<0.01). In contrast, levels of pyrene and naphthalene metabolites, 1-hydroxypyrene and 2-naphthol, increased from 2001 to 2012 (APC=6.29% and 7.90% for 1-hydroxypyrene and 2-naphthol, respectively; p<0.01 for both).
Multiple NYC legislative regulations targeting traffic-related air pollution may have led to decreases in Σ8PAHnonvolatile and BC, especially in the nonheating season. Despite the overall decrease in pyrene over the 2001–2012 periods, a rise in pyrene levels in recent years (2005–2012), that was particularly evident for measures collected during the heating season, and 2-naphthol, indicates the contribution of heating oil combustion and other indoor sources to airborne pyrene and urinary 2-naphthol.
PMCID: PMC4031101  PMID: 24709094
Temporal variations; heating season; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; urinary metabolites; repeat exposure; traffic emission; heating oil combustion
5.  Coal dust alters β-naphthoflavone-induced aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocation in alveolar type II cells 
Many polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can cause DNA adducts and initiate carcinogenesis. Mixed exposures to coal dust (CD) and PAHs are common in occupational settings. In the CD and PAH-exposed lung, CD increases apoptosis and causes alveolar type II (AT-II) cell hyperplasia but reduces CYP1A1 induction. Inflammation, but not apoptosis, appears etiologically associated with reduced CYP1A1 induction in this mixed exposure model. Many AT-II cells in the CD-exposed lungs have no detectable CYP1A1 induction after PAH exposure. Although AT-II cells are a small subfraction of lung cells, they are believed to be a potential progenitor cell for some lung cancers. Because CYP1A1 is induced via ligand-mediated nuclear translocation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), we investigated the effect of CD on PAH-induced nuclear translocation of AhR in AT-II cells isolated from in vivo-exposed rats. Rats received CD or vehicle (saline) by intratracheal (IT) instillation. Three days before sacrifice, half of the rats in each group started daily intraperitoneal injections of the PAH, β-naphthoflavone (BNF).
Fourteen days after IT CD exposure and 1 day after the last intraperitoneal BNF injection, AhR immunofluorescence indicated that proportional AhR nuclear expression and the percentage of cells with nuclear AhR were significantly increased in rats receiving IT saline and BNF injections compared to vehicle controls. However, in CD-exposed rats, BNF did not significantly alter the nuclear localization or cytosolic expression of AhR compared to rats receiving CD and oil.
Our findings suggest that during particle and PAH mixed exposures, CD alters the BNF-induced nuclear translocation of AhR in AT-II cells. This provides an explanation for the modification of CYP1A1 induction in these cells. Thus, this study suggests that mechanisms for reduced PAH-induced CYP1A1 activity in the CD exposed lung include not only the effects of inflammation on the lung as a whole, but also reduced PAH-associated nuclear translocation of AhR in an expanded population of AT-II cells.
PMCID: PMC2732588  PMID: 19650907
6.  Synergistic induction of AHR regulated genes in developmental toxicity from co-exposure to two model PAHs in zebrafish 
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are pollutants created by the incomplete combustion of carbon, and are increasing in the environment largely due to the burning of fossil fuels. PAHs occur as complex mixtures, and some combinations have been shown to cause synergistic developmental toxicity in fish embryos, characterized by pericardial edema and craniofacial malformations. Previous studies have indicated that in the zebrafish model, this toxicity is mediated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor 2 (AHR2), and enhanced by inhibition of CYP1A activity. In this study, we further examined this interaction of the model PAH and AHR agonist β-naphthoflavone (BNF) with and without the AHR partial agonist/antagonist and CYP1A inhibitor α-naphthoflavone (ANF) to determine 1) whether ANF was acting as an AHR antagonist, 2) what alterations BNF and ANF both alone and in combination had on mRNA expression of the AHR regulated genes cytochrome P450 (cyp) 1a, 1b1, and 1c1, and the AHR repressor (ahrr2) prior to vs. during deformity onset, and 3) compare CYP1A enzyme activity with mRNA induction. Zebrafish embryos were exposed from 24–48 or 24–96 hpf to BNF, 1–100 μg/L, ANF, 1–150 μg/L, a BNF+ANF co-exposure (1 μg/L + 100 μg/L), or a DMSO solvent control. RNA was extracted and examined by quantitative real time PCR. Both BNF and ANF each individually resulted in a dose dependent increase CYP1A, CYP1B1, CYP1C1, and AHRR2 mRNA, confirming their activities as AHR agonists. In the BNF+ANF co-exposures prior to deformity onset, expression of these genes was synergistic, and expression levels of the AHR regulated genes resembled the higher doses of BNF alone. Gene induction during deformities was also significantly increased in the co-exposure, but to a lesser magnitude than prior to deformity onset. EROD measurements of CYP1A activity showed ANF inhibited activity induction by BNF in the co-exposure group; this finding is not predicted by mRNA expression, which is synergistically induced in this treatment. This suggests that inhibition of CYP1A activity may alter metabolism and/or increase the half-life of the AHR agonist(s), allowing for increased AHR activation. This study furthers a mechanistic understanding of interactions underlying PAH synergistic toxicity.
PMCID: PMC2139898  PMID: 17964672
quantitative real-time PCR; CYP1A; CYP1B1; CYP1C1; AHRR; zebrafish; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; aryl hydrocarbon receptor
7.  Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Reciprocally Regulate IL-22 and IL-17 Cytokines in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from Both Healthy and Asthmatic Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0122372.
Pollution, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), may contribute to increased prevalence of asthma. PAH can bind to the Aryl hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR), a transcription factor involved in Th17/Th22 type polarization. These cells produce IL17A and IL-22, which allow neutrophil recruitment, airway smooth muscle proliferation and tissue repair and remodeling. Increased IL-17 and IL-22 productions have been associated with asthma. We hypothesized that PAH might affect, through their effects on AhR, IL-17 and IL-22 production in allergic asthmatics. Activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 16 nonallergic nonasthmatic (NA) and 16 intermittent allergic asthmatic (AA) subjects were incubated with PAH, and IL-17 and IL-22 productions were assessed. At baseline, activated PBMCs from AA exhibited an increased IL-17/IL-22 profile compared with NA subjects. Diesel exhaust particle (DEP)-PAH and Benzo[a]Pyrene (B[a]P) stimulation further increased IL-22 but decreased IL-17A production in both groups. The PAH-induced IL-22 levels in asthmatic patients were significantly higher than in healthy subjects. Among PBMCs, PAH-induced IL-22 expression originated principally from single IL-22- but not from IL-17- expressing CD4 T cells. The Th17 transcription factors RORA and RORC were down regulated, whereas AhR target gene CYP1A1 was upregulated. IL-22 induction by DEP-PAH was mainly dependent upon AhR whereas IL-22 induction by B[a]P was dependent upon activation of PI3K and JNK. Altogether, these data suggest that DEP-PAH and B[a]P may contribute to increased IL22 production in both healthy and asthmatic subjects through mechanisms involving both AhR -dependent and -independent pathways.
PMCID: PMC4393221  PMID: 25860963
8.  Safety, tolerability, and efficacy of endoscopic low-pressure liquid nitrogen spray cryotherapy in the esophagus 
Endoscopic cryotherapy is a new technique for ablation of esophageal dysplasia and neoplasia. Preliminary studies have shown it to be safe and effective for this indication. The objective of this study is to characterize safety, tolerability, and efficacy of low-pressure liquid nitrogen endoscopic spray cryotherapy ablation in a large cohort across multiple study sites. Parallel prospective treatment studies at four tertiary care academic medical centers in the U.S. assessed spray cryotherapy in patients with Barrett’s esophagus with or without dysplasia, early stage esophageal cancer, and severe squamous dysplasia who underwent cryotherapy ablation of the esophagus. All patients were contacted between 1 and 10 days after treatment to assess for side effects and complications of treatment. The main outcome measurement was the incidence of serious adverse events and side effects from treatment. Complete response for high-grade dysplasia (HGD) (CR-HGD), all dysplasia (CR-D), intestinal metaplasia (CR-IM) and cancer (CR-C) were assessed in patients completing therapy during the study period. A total of 77 patients were treated for Barrett’s high-grade dysplasia (58.4%), intramucosal carcinoma (16.9%), invasive carcinoma (13%), Barrett’s esophagus without dysplasia (9.1%), and severe squamous dysplasia (2.6%). Twenty-two patients (28.6%) reported no side effects throughout treatment. In 323 procedures, the most common complaint was chest pain (17.6%) followed by dysphagia (13.3%), odynophagia (12.1%), and sore throat (9.6%). The mean duration of any symptoms was 3.6 days. No side effects were reported in 48% of the procedures (155/323). Symptoms did not correlate with age, gender, diagnosis, or to treatment early versus late in the patient’s or site’s experience. Logit analysis showed that symptoms were greater in those with a Barrett’s segment of 6 cm or longer. Gastric perforation occurred in one patient with Marfan’s syndrome. Esophageal stricture developed in three, all successfully treated with dilation. In 17 HGD patients, cryotherapy produced CR-HGD, CR-D, and CR-IM of 94%, 88%, and 53%, respectively. Complete regression of cancer and HGD was seen in all seven patients with intramucosal carcinoma or stage I esophageal cancer. Endoscopic spray cryotherapy ablation using low-pressure liquid nitrogen in the esophagus is safe, well-tolerated, and efficacious.
PMCID: PMC3144029  PMID: 19515183
Barrett esophagus; catheter ablation; cryosurgery; cryotherapy; esophageal neoplasm; safety
9.  Zebrafish Cardiotoxicity: The Effects of CYP1A Inhibition and AHR2 Knockdown Following Exposure to Weak Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Agonists 
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor that mediates many of the toxic effects of dioxin-like compounds (DLCs) and some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Strong AHR agonists, such as certain polychlorinated biphenyls and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), cause severe cardiac teratogenesis in fish embryos. Moderately strong AHR agonists, such as benzo[a]pyrene and β-naphthoflavone, have been shown to cause similar cardiotoxic effects when coupled with a cytochrome P450 1A (CYP1A) inhibitor, such as fluoranthene (FL). We sought to determine if weak AHR agonists, when combined with a CYP1A inhibitor (FL) or CYP1A morpholino gene knockdown, are capable of causing cardiac deformities similar to moderately strong AHR agonists (Wassenberg and Di Giulio 2004; Wassenberg and Di Giulio 2004; Billiard, Timme-Laragy et al. 2006; Van Tiem and Di Giulio 2011). The weak AHR agonists included the following: carbaryl, phenanthrene, 2-methylindole, 3-methylindole, indigo, and indirubin. The results showed a complex pattern of cardiotoxic response to weak agonist inhibitor exposure and morpholino-knockdown. Danio rerio (zebrafish) embryos were first exposed to weak AHR agonists at equimolar concentrations. The agonists were assessed for their relative potency as inducers of CYP1 enzyme activity, measured by the ethoxyresorufin-o-deethylase (EROD) assay, and cardiac deformities. Carbaryl, 2-methylindole, and 3-methylindole induced the highest CYP1A activity in zebrafish. Experiments were then conducted to determine the individual cardiotoxicity of each compound. Next, zebrafish were co-exposed to each agonist (at concentrations below those determined to be cardiotoxic) and FL in combination to assess if CYP1A inhibition could induce cardiac deformities. Carbaryl, 2-methylindole, 3-methylindole, and phenanthrene significantly increased pericardial edema relative to controls when combined with FL. To further evaluate the interaction of the weak AHR agonists and CYP1A inhibition, a morpholino was used to knockdown CYP1A expression, and embryos were then exposed to each agonist individually. In embryos exposed to 2-MI, CYP1A knockdown caused a similar level of pericardial edema to that caused by exposure to 2-MI and FL. However, CYP1A knockdown in phenanthrene and 3-methylindole only moderately increased pericardial edema relative to co-exposure to FL. AHR2 expression was also knocked down using a morpholino to determine its role in mediating the observed cardiac teratogenesis. Knockdown of AHR2 did not rescue the pericardial edema as previously observed with strong AHR agonists. While some of the cardiotoxicity observed may be attributed to the combination of weak AHR agonism and CYP1A inhibition, other weak AHR agonists appear to be causing cardiotoxicity through an AHR2-independent mechanism. The data show that CYP1A is protective of the cardiac toxicity associated with weak AHR agonists and that knockdown can generate pericardial edema, but these findings are also suggestive of differing mechanisms of cardiac toxicity among known AHR agonists.
PMCID: PMC4442063  PMID: 25532870
Aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonist; Cardiotoxicity; Zebrafish; Teratogenesis; Cytochrome P450; Morpholino
10.  p53 Modulates Hsp90 ATPase Activity and Regulates Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Signaling 
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a client protein of heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90), is a ligand activated transcription factor that plays a role in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) induced carcinogenesis. Tobacco smoke activates AhR signaling leading to increased transcription of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1, which encode proteins that convert PAHs to mutagens. Recently, p53 was found to regulate Hsp90 ATPase activity via effects on activator of Hsp90 ATPase (Aha1). It’s possible, therefore, that AhR-dependent expression of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 might be affected by p53 status. The main objective of this study was to determine if p53 modulated AhR-dependent gene expression and PAH metabolism. Here we show that silencing p53 led to elevated Aha1 levels, increased Hsp90 ATPase activity and enhanced CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 expression. Overexpression of wild type p53 suppressed levels of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1. The significance of Aha1 in mediating these p53-dependent effects was determined. Silencing of Aha1 led to reduced Hsp90 ATPase activity and down regulation of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1. In contrast, overexpressing Aha1 was associated with increased Hsp90 ATPase activity and elevated levels of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1. Using p53 heterozygous mutant epithelial cells from Li-Fraumeni Syndrome patients, we show that monoallelic mutation of p53 was associated with elevated levels of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 under both basal conditions and following treatment with benzo[a]pyrene. Treatment with CP-31398, a p53 rescue compound, suppressed benzo[a]pyrene-mediated induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 and the formation of DNA adducts. Collectively, our results suggest that p53 affects AhR-dependent gene expression, PAH metabolism and possibly carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4074578  PMID: 24736433
p53; Hsp90; aryl hydrocarbon receptor; CYP1A1; CYP1B1
11.  Relationship between ambient air pollution and DNA damage in Polish mothers and newborns. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1998;106(Suppl 3):821-826.
Industrialized regions in Poland are characterized by high ambient pollution, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from coal burning for industry and home heating. In experimental bioassays, certain PAHs are transplacental carcinogens and developmental toxicants. Biologic markers can facilitate evaluation of effects of environmental PAHs on the developing infant. We measured the amount of PAHs bound to DNA (PAH-DNA adducts) in maternal and umbilical white blood cells. The cohort consisted of 70 mothers and newborns from Krakow, Poland, an industrialized city with elevated air pollution. Modulation of adduct levels by genotypes previously linked to risk of lung cancer, specifically glutathione S-transferase MI (GSTM1) and cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1) Msp restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), was also investigated. There was a dose-related increase in maternal and newborn adduct levels with ambient pollution at the women's place of residence among subjects who were not employed away from home (p < or = 0.05). Maternal smoking (active and passive) significantly increased maternal (p < or = 0.01) but not newborn adduct levels. Neither CYP1A1 Msp nor GSTM1 polymorphisms was associated with maternal adducts. However, adducts were significantly higher in newborns heterozygous or homozygous for the CYP1A1 Msp RFLP compared to newborns without the RFLP (p = 0.04). Results indicate that PAH-induced DNA damage in mothers and newborns is increased by ambient air pollution. In the fetus, this damage appears to be enhanced by the CYP1A1 Mspl polymorphism.
PMCID: PMC1533078  PMID: 9646044
12.  Effect based monitoring of seasonal ambient air exposures in Australia sampled by PUF passive air samplers 
There has been relatively little bioanalytical effect based monitoring conducted using samples derived from polyurethane foam (PUF) passive air samplers. Combining these techniques may provide a more convenient and cost effective means of monitoring the potential for biological effects resulting from exposure to complex mixtures in a range of scenarios. Seasonal polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) levels were monitored at sites around Australia using direct chemical analysis. In addition, both indirect acting genotoxicity (umuC assay) and aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) activity (chemically activated fluorescent gene expression [CAFLUX assay]), which are effects potentially relevant to subsequent carcinogenesis for these compounds, were measured. The levels of PAHs as well as genotoxicity and AhR activity were all higher in winter compared to summer and for sites in urban capital cities compared to other locations. Statistically significant relationships were found between the levels of PAHs and both genotoxicity and AhR activity. The dominant contributors to the total AhR activity, were found to be for compounds which are not resistant to H2SO4/silica gel treatment and were relatively rapidly metabolised that is consistent with a PAH type response. Relative potency estimates for individual PAHs determined for the first time on the CAFLUX assay were used to estimate the proportion of total AhR activity (≤ 3.0%) accounted by PAHs monitored. Observed responses are thus largely due to non-quantified AhR active compounds.
PMCID: PMC3087176  PMID: 21552507
Passive air sampling; Polyurethane foam (PUF); Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Aryl hydrocarbon receptor activity; Genotoxicity
13.  Characterization of the recalcitrant CYP1 phenotype found in Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) inhabiting a Superfund site on the Elizabeth River, VA 
Fundulus heteroclitus (Atlantic killifish) found at the Atlantic Wood Industries Superfund site on the Elizabeth River (ER) in Portsmouth, VA (USA), have been shown to be resistant to the teratogenic effects of creosote-contaminated sediments found at this highly contaminated site. Many of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found at the ER are known to activate the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), and are thought to mediate their toxic effects through this pathway. Activation of the AHR results in the induction of several Phase I and II metabolic enzymes. It has been previously shown that the AHR of killifish from the ER are refractory to induction by AHR agonists. To more fully characterize this altered AHR response, we exposed embryos from the ER and from a reference site on King's Creek, VA (KC) to two PAHs, benzo[α]pyrene (BaP) and benzo[k]fluoranthene (BkF), and to the dioxin-like compound (DLC), 3,3′,4,4′,5-pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB126). We compared their developmental and molecular responses by screening the embryos for CYP1A enzyme activity, cardiac deformities, and mRNA expression of CYP1A, CYP1B1, CYP1C1, and AHR2. Basal gene expression of both CYP1A and CYP1B1 was 40% higher in the KC control embryos compared to those from the ER, while AHR2 and CYP1C1 were not significantly different between the populations. Exposure of KC embryos to BaP, BkF, and PCB126 induced CYP1A activity and cardiac deformities. In contrast, CYP1A activity was induced in ER embryos only in response to BkF exposure, although this induction in ER embryos was significantly lower than that observed in KC fish at comparable concentrations. ER embryos did not develop cardiac deformities in response to any of the chemicals tested. CYP1A, CYP1B1 and CYP1C1 mRNA were all significantly induced in the KC embryos after exposure to BaP, BkF and PCB126. Exposure to BaP and BkF in ER embryos resulted in a significant induction of CYP1A mRNA, albeit significantly lower than observed in KC fish. Interestingly, BaP exposure resulted in induction of CYP1B1 at comparable levels in embryos from both populations. CYP1s were not induced in ER embryos in response to PCB126, nor was CYP1C1 for any treatment examined. Additionally, AHR2 was not significantly induced for any of the treatment groups. This study further characterizes the AHR response in killifish, and provides greater insight into the adapted ER phenotype. The ER adaptation involves the suppression of normal AHR-inducible gene expression for all three CYP1 genes, and therefore is likely an alteration in AHR signaling or control.
PMCID: PMC2883677  PMID: 20471113
Fundulus heteroclitus; Elizabeth River; cytochrome P450-1; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon; Benzo[a]pyrene; benzo[k]fluoranthene; 3,3′,4,4′,5-pentachlorobiphenyl
14.  Assessing indoor air exposures using passive sampling with bioanalytical methods for estrogenicity and aryl hydrocarbon receptor activity 
Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry  2009;394(5):1413-1421.
Passive air sampling was undertaken using polyurethane foam passive air samplers at three types of locations, including indoors (six offices) at buildings in the central business district (CBD) and at a private suburban home (indoor and outdoor) located 9 km from the CBD in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Estrogenic (E-SCREEN—MCF7-BOS) and aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) (CAFLUX— H4G1.1c2) activity were assessed for samples collected from each of these locations. The samples were tested either as crude extracts (“untreated”) or were subjected to H2SO4 silica gel (“treated”) for each location in order to determine whether chemicals, which are not resistant to this treatment like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, potentially account for the observed activity. In most cases, H2SO4 treatment resulted in a statistically significant reduction of potency for both endpoints, suggesting that chemicals less resistant to treatment may be responsible for much of the detected biological activity in these locations. Estrogenic potency measurements (<0.22–185 pg m−3) were highest in the indoor offices, followed by the indoor suburban home and finally the outdoor suburban home (which was not estrogenic). Total AhR activity for crude extracts (1.3–10 pg m−3) however was highest for the outdoor suburban home site. Levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were monitored indoors and outdoors at the suburban home. At that location, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon air concentrations were on average approximately two times higher outdoor than indoor, while AhR potency was five times higher outdoor than indoor. No significant correlation was found between the estrogenic and AhR activity (P=0.88) for the sites in this study.
PMCID: PMC2864012  PMID: 19430962
Arylhydrocarbon receptor activity; Estrogenicity; Bioanalytical methods; Indoor air; Passive air sampling
15.  Ligand-Specific Transcriptional Mechanisms Underlie Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor-Mediated Developmental Toxicity of Oxygenated PAHs 
Toxicological Sciences  2015;147(2):397-411.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are priority environmental contaminants that exhibit mutagenic, carcinogenic, proinflammatory, and teratogenic properties. Oxygen-substituted PAHs (OPAHs) are formed during combustion processes and via phototoxidation and biological degradation of parent (unsubstituted) PAHs. Despite their prevalence both in contaminated industrial sites and in urban air, OPAH mechanisms of action in biological systems are relatively understudied. Like parent PAHs, OPAHs exert structure-dependent mutagenic activities and activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and cytochrome p450 metabolic pathway. Four-ring OPAHs 1,9-benz-10-anthrone (BEZO) and benz(a)anthracene-7,12-dione (7,12-B[a]AQ) cause morphological aberrations and induce markers of oxidative stress in developing zebrafish with similar potency, but only 7,12-B[a]AQ induces robust Cyp1a protein expression. We investigated the role of the AHR in mediating the toxicity of BEZO and 7,12-B[a]AQ, and found that knockdown of AHR2 rescued developmental effects caused by both compounds. Using RNA-seq and molecular docking, we identified transcriptional responses that precede developmental toxicity induced via differential interaction with AHR2. Redox-homeostasis genes were affected similarly by these OPAHs, while 7,12-B[a]AQ preferentially activated phase 1 metabolism and BEZO uniquely decreased visual system genes. Analysis of biological functions and upstream regulators suggests that BEZO is a weak AHR agonist, but interacts with other transcriptional regulators to cause developmental toxicity in an AHR-dependent manner. Identifying ligand-dependent AHR interactions and signaling pathways is essential for understanding toxicity of this class of environmentally relevant compounds.
PMCID: PMC4612346  PMID: 26141390
OPAH; zebrafish; aryl hydrocarbon receptor; RNA-seq; benzanthrone; benz(a)anthracene-7,12-dione
16.  Carnosol, a Constituent of Zyflamend, Inhibits Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor-Mediated Activation of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 Transcription and Mutagenesis 
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a ligand-activated member of the basic-helix-loop-helix family of transcription factors, plays a significant role in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) induced carcinogenesis. In the upper aerodigestive tract of humans, tobacco smoke, a source of PAHs, activates the AhR leading to increased expression of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1, which encode proteins that convert PAHs to genotoxic metabolites. Inhibitors of Hsp90 ATPase cause a rapid decrease in levels of AhR, an Hsp90 client protein, and thereby block PAH-mediated induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1. The main objective of this study was to determine whether Zyflamend, a polyherbal preparation, suppressed PAH-mediated induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 and inhibited DNA adduct formation and mutagenesis. We also investigated whether carnosol, one of multiple phenolic antioxidants in Zyflamend, had similar inhibitory effects. Treatment of cell lines derived from oral leukoplakia (MSK-Leuk1) and skin (HaCaT) with benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P), a prototypic PAH, induced CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 transcription, resulting in enhanced levels of message and protein. Both Zyflamend and carnosol suppressed these effects of B[a]P. Notably, both Zyflamend and carnosol inhibited Hsp90 ATPase activity and caused a rapid reduction in AhR levels. The formation of B[a]P induced DNA adducts and mutagenesis were also inhibited by Zyflamend and carnosol. Collectively, these results show that Zyflamend and carnosol inhibit Hsp90 ATPase leading to reduced levels of AhR, suppression of B[a]P-mediated induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 and inhibition of mutagenesis. Carnosol-mediated inhibition of Hsp90 ATPase activity can help explain the chemopreventive activity of herbs such as Rosemary, which contain this phenolic antioxidant.
PMCID: PMC3324618  PMID: 22374940
17.  Knockdown of aberrantly upregulated aryl hydrocarbon receptor reduces tumor growth and metastasis of MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cell line 
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a ligand-activated transcription factor that belongs to the basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH)–Per-ARNT-Sim (PAS) superfamily of transcription factors, mediates toxic response induced by environmental chemicals such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). AhR is expressed at high levels in several human breast carcinoma cell lines in direct correlation with the degree of their malignancy. Recent studies suggest a possible role for AhR in cancer independent of PAH. Therefore, we established stable AhR knockdown cells of the human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 and analyzed their tumorigenic properties in in vitro and in vivo model systems. In addition we analyzed their response to radiation and chemotherapeutic treatment. AhR knockdown attenuated these cells tumorigenic properties in vitro including proliferation, anchorage independent growth, migration and apoptosis and reduced orthotopic xenograft tumor growth and lung metastasis in vivo. Notably, we observed that AhR knockdown enhanced radiation-induced apoptosis as well as significantly decreased cell clonogenic survival. Furthermore, AhR knockdown in MDA-MB-231 cells sensitized them to paclitaxel treatment, evident by a decrease in the required cytotoxic dose. Subsequent analysis revealed AhR knockdown significantly reduced phosphorylation of AKT, which impacts cell proliferation and survival. Apoptosis-focused gene expression analyses revealed an altered expression of genes regulating apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 cells. Collectively, our data identify AhR as a potential novel therapeutic target in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3797219  PMID: 23733406
breast cancer; AhR knockdown; cell proliferation; apoptosis; bioluminescence imaging
18.  Malignant Transformation of Mammary Epithelial Cells by Ectopic Overexpression of the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor 
Current cancer drug targets  2011;11(5):654-669.
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand activated basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor that binds to environmental poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and mediates their toxic and carcinogenic responses. There is ample documentation for the role of AhR in PAH-induced carcinogenicity. However, in this report we addressed whether overexpression of AhR alone is sufficient to induce carcinogenic transformation in human mammary epithelial cells (HMEC). Retroviral expression vectors were used to develop a series of stable cell lines expressing varying levels of AhR protein in an immortalized normal HMEC with relatively low endogenous AhR expression. The resulted increase in AhR expression and activity correlated with the development of cellular malignant phenotypes, most significantly epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Clones overexpressing AhR by more than 3-fold, exhibited a 50% decrease in population doubling time. Cell cycle analysis revealed that this increase in proliferation rates was due to an enhanced cell cycle progression by increasing the percentage of cells transiting into S- and G2/M phases. Cells overexpressing AhR exhibited enhanced motility and migration. Importantly, these cells acquired the ability to invade matrigel matrix, where more than 80% of plated cells invaded the matrigel matrix within 24 h, whereas none of parental or the vector control HMEC were able to invade matrigel. Collectively, these data provide evidence for a direct role of AhR in the progression of breast carcinoma. The results suggest a novel therapeutic target that could be considered for treatment and prevention of breast cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC4070443  PMID: 21486221
aryl hydrocarbon receptor; ectopic overexpression; mammary epithelia; transformation; breast cancer; progression
19.  Gastroscopy following a positive fecal occult blood test and negative colonoscopy: Systematic review and guideline 
A sizeable number of individuals who participate in population-based colorectal cancer (CRC) screening programs and have a positive fecal occult blood test (FOBT) do not have an identifiable lesion found at colonoscopy to account for their positive FOBT screen.
To evaluate the evidence and provide recommendations regarding the use of routine esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) to detect upper gastrointestinal (UGI) cancers in patients participating in a population-based CRC screening program who are FOBT positive and colonoscopy negative.
A systematic review was used to develop the evidentiary base and to inform the evidence-based recommendations provided.
Nine studies identified a group of patients who were FOBT positive and colonoscopy negative. Three studies found no cases of UGI cancer. Four studies reported cases of UGI cancer; three found UGI cancer in 1% or less of the population studied, and one study found one case of UGI cancer that represented 7% of their small subgroup of FOBT-positive/colonoscopy-negative patients. Two studies did not provide outcome information that could be specifically related to the FOBT-positive/colonoscopy-negative subgroup.
The current body of evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routine EGD as a means of detecting gastric or esophageal cancers for patients who are FOBT positive/colonoscopy negative, in a population-based CRC screening program. The decision to perform EGD should be individualized and based on clinical judgement.
PMCID: PMC2852233  PMID: 20151070
Colonoscopy; Esophagogastroduodenoscopy; Fecal occult blood test; Mass screening; Systematic review; Upper gastrointestinal cancer
20.  AhR and Arnt differentially regulate NF-κB signaling and chemokine responses in human bronchial epithelial cells 
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) has gradually emerged as a regulator of inflammation in the lung and other tissues. AhR may interact with the p65-subunit of the nuclear factor (NF)-κB transcription factors, but reported outcomes of AhR/NF-κB-interactions are conflicting. Some studies suggest that AhR possess pro-inflammatory activities while others suggest that AhR may be anti-inflammatory. The present study explored the impact of AhR and its binding partner AhR nuclear translocator (Arnt) on p65-activation and two differentially regulated chemokines, CXCL8 (IL-8) and CCL5 (RANTES), in human bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B).
Cells were exposed to CXCL8- and CCL5-inducing chemicals, 1-nitropyrene (1-NP) and 1-aminopyrene (1-AP) respectively, or the synthetic double-stranded RNA analogue, polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (Poly I:C) which induced both chemokines. Only CXCL8, and not CCL5, appeared to be p65-dependent. Yet, constitutively active unligated AhR suppressed both CXCL8 and CCL5, as shown by siRNA knock-down and the AhR antagonist α-naphthoflavone. Moreover, AhR suppressed activation of p65 by TNF-α and Poly I:C as assessed by luciferase-assay and p65-phosphorylation at serine 536, without affecting basal p65-activity. In contrast, Arnt suppressed only CXCL8, but did not prevent the p65-activation directly. However, Arnt suppressed expression of the NF-κB-subunit RelB which is under transcriptional regulation by p65. Furthermore, AhR-ligands alone at high concentrations induced a moderate CXCL8-response, without affecting CCL5, but suppressed both CXCL8 and CCL5-responses by Poly I:C.
AhR and Arnt may differentially and independently regulate chemokine-responses induced by both inhaled pollutants and pulmonary infections. Constitutively active, unligated AhR suppressed the activation of p65, while Arnt may possibly interfere with the action of activated p65. Moreover, ligand-activated AhR suppressed CXCL8 and CCL5 responses by other agents, but AhR ligands alone induced CXCL8 responses when given at sufficiently high concentrations, thus underscoring the duality of AhR in regulation of inflammation. We propose that AhR-signaling may be a weak activator of p65-signaling that suppresses p65-activity induced by strong activators of NF-κB, but that its anti-inflammatory properties also are due to interference with additional pathways.
PMCID: PMC4222560  PMID: 25201625
Aryl hydrocarbon receptor; AhR nuclear translocator; interleukin-8; RANTES; Nuclear factor NF-κB; p65; RelB; Inflammation; Lung epithelial cells
21.  Carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons induce CYP1A1 in human cells via a p53-dependent mechanism 
Archives of Toxicology  2014;90:291-304.
The tumour suppressor gene TP53 is mutated in more than 50 % of human tumours, making it one of the most important cancer genes. We have investigated the role of TP53 in cytochrome P450 (CYP)-mediated metabolic activation of three polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in a panel of isogenic colorectal HCT116 cells with differing TP53 status. Cells that were TP53(+/+), TP53(+/−), TP53(−/−), TP53(R248W/+) or TP53(R248W/−) were treated with benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), dibenz[a,h]anthracene and dibenzo[a,l]pyrene, and the formation of DNA adducts was measured by 32P-postlabelling analysis. Each PAH formed significantly higher DNA adduct levels in TP53(+/+) cells than in the other cell lines. There were also significantly lower levels of PAH metabolites in the culture media of these other cell lines. Bypass of the need for metabolic activation by treating cells with the corresponding reactive PAH-diol-epoxide metabolites resulted in similar adduct levels in all cell lines, which confirms that the influence of p53 is on the metabolism of the parent PAHs. Western blotting showed that CYP1A1 protein expression was induced to much greater extent in TP53(+/+) cells than in the other cell lines. CYP1A1 is inducible via the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), but we did not find that expression of AHR was dependent on p53; rather, we found that BaP-induced CYP1A1 expression was regulated through p53 binding to a p53 response element in the CYP1A1 promoter region, thereby enhancing its transcription. This study demonstrates a new pathway for CYP1A1 induction by environmental PAHs and reveals an emerging role for p53 in xenobiotic metabolism.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00204-014-1409-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4748000  PMID: 25398514
Benzo[a]pyrene; Tumour suppressor p53; Cytochrome P450; Carcinogen metabolism; DNA adducts
22.  The Changing Pattern of Upper Gastro-Intestinal Lesions in Southern Saudi Arabia: An Endoscopic Study 
Dyspepsia is a common gastrointestinal disorder and is the most common indication for upper gastrointestinal endoscopy (UGIE). In recent years, it has been observed in several centers that there is a change in the causes of dyspepsia as revealed by UGIE. Our main objectives were: (1) To study the pattern of upper gastrointestinal pathology in patients with dyspepsia undergoing upper endoscopy; (2) Compare that with the pattern seen 10-15 years earlier in different areas of KSA.
Patients and Methods:
Retrospective study of all UGI endoscopies performed at Aseer Central Hospital, Abha, Southern Saudi Arabia during the years 2005-2007 on patients above 13 years of age. Patients who underwent UGIE for reasons other than dyspepsia were excluded. The analysis was performed using the SPSS 14 statistical package.
A total of 1,607 patients underwent UGI endoscopy during the three-year study period (age range, 15-100). There were 907 males (56.4%) and 700 female (43.6%). Normal findings were reported on 215 patients (14%) and the majority had gastritis (676 = 42%), of whom 344 had gastritis with ulcer disease. Moreover, 242 patients (15%) had gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD), with or without esophagitis or hiatus hernia. Also, a total of 243 patients had duodenal ulcer (DU) (15%) while only 12 had gastric ulcer (0.7%).
Discussion and Conclusion:
There is clear change in the frequency of UGIE lesions detected recently compared to a decade ago with an increasing prevalence of reflux esophagitis and hiatus hernia. This could be attributed to changes in lifestyle and dietary habits such as more consumption of fat and fast food, increased prevalence of obesity, and smoking. These problems should be addressed in order to minimize the serious complications of esophageal diseases.
PMCID: PMC3023100  PMID: 20065572
Dyspepsia; endoscopy; lesions; esophageal disease
23.  CH223191 Is a Ligand-Selective Antagonist of the Ah (Dioxin) Receptor 
Toxicological Sciences  2010;117(2):393-403.
The aryl hydrocarbon (dioxin) receptor (AhR) is a ligand-dependent transcription factor that produces a wide range of biological and toxic effects in many species and tissues. Whereas the best-characterized high-affinity ligands include structurally related halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons (HAHs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the AhR is promiscuous and can also be activated by structurally diverse exogenous and endogenous chemicals. However, little is known about how these diverse ligands actually bind to and activate the AhR. Utilizing AhR ligand binding, DNA binding, and reporter gene expression assays, we have identified a novel ligand-selective antagonist (CH223191) that preferentially inhibits the ability of some classes of AhR agonists (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and related HAHs), but not others (PAHs, flavonoids, or indirubin), to bind to and/or activate the AhR and AhR signal transduction. HAH-specific antagonism of AhR-dependent reporter gene expression by CH223191 was observed with mouse, rat, human, and guinea pig cell lines. Ligand- and species-selective antagonism was also observed with the AhR antagonists 3′-methoxy-4′-nitroflavone and 6,2′,4′,-trimethoxyflavone. Our results suggest that the differences in the binding by various ligands to the AhR contribute to the observed structural diversity of AhR ligands and could contribute in ligand-specific variation in AhR functionality and the toxic and biological effects of various classes of AhR agonists.
PMCID: PMC2940411  PMID: 20634293
2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin; TCDD; Ah receptor; beta-naphthoflavone; CH223191
24.  Biomonitoring of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure in pregnant women in Trujillo, Peru — Comparison of different fuel types used for cooking☆ 
Women and children in developing countries are often exposed to high levels of air pollution including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which may negatively impact their health, due to household combustion of biomass fuel for cooking and heating. We compared creatinine adjusted hydroxy-PAH (OH-PAH) concentrations in pregnant women in Trujillo, Peru who cook with wood to levels measured in those who cook with kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas or a combination of fuels. Seventy-nine women were recruited for the study between May and July 2004 in the first trimester of their pregnancy. Urine samples were collected from the subjects in the first, second and third trimesters for OH-PAH analyses. The concentrations of the OH-PAHs were compared across the type of fuel used for cooking and pregnancy trimesters. The relationships between OH-PAHs levels in the first trimester and concurrently measured personal exposures to PM2.5, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide together with their indoor and outdoor air concentrations were also investigated. Women cooking with wood or kerosene had the highest creatinine adjusted OH-PAH concentrations compared with those using gas, coal briquette or a combination of fuels. Concentrations of creatinine adjusted 2-hydroxy-fluorene, 3-hydroxy-fluorene, 1-hydroxy-fluorene, 2-hydroxy-phenanthrene and 4-hydroxy-phenanthrene were significantly higher (p<0.05) in women who used wood or kerosene alone compared with women who used liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), coal briquette or a combination of fuels. An increase in the concentrations of creatinine adjusted 9-hydroxy-fluorene, 1-hydroxy-phenanthrene, 2-hydroxy-phenanthrene, 4-hydroxy-phenanthrene and 1-hydroxy-pyrene in the third trimesters was also observed. Weak positive correlation (Spearman correlation coefficient, ρ<0.4; p<0.05) was observed between all first trimester creatinine adjusted OH-PAHs and indoor (kitchen and living room), and personal 48-h TWA PM2.5. Women who cooked exclusively with wood or kerosene had higher creatinine adjusted OH-PAH levels in their urine samples compared to women who cooked with LPG or coal briquette.
PMCID: PMC5129745  PMID: 23314038
Indoor air pollution; Biomass; Gas; hydroxyl-substituted polycyclic aromatic; hydrocarbon; Pregnant women; Peru
25.  Induction of carbonyl reductase 1 (CBR1) expression in human lung tissues and lung cancer cells by the cigarette smoke constituent benzo[a]pyrene 
Toxicology Letters  2012;211(3):266-273.
Carbonyl reductase 1 (CBR1) reduces various xenobiotic carbonyl substrates to corresponding alcohol metabolites. Here we demonstrated that benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P), a potent pro-carcinogen and predominant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) compound in cigarette smoke and air pollutants, upregulates CBR1 gene expression in vitro and in vivo, and that a proximal xenobiotic response elements (XRE) motif (−122XRE) mediates the induction effect of B[a]P. First, we observed 46% and 50% increases in CBR1 mRNA and CBR1 protein levels, respectively, in human lung tissue samples from smokers compared to never-smokers. Second, we detected 3.0-fold (p < 0.0001) induction of CBR1 mRNA and 1.5-fold (p < 0.01) induction of CBR1 protein levels in cells of the human lung cancer cell line A549 incubated with 2.5µM B[a]P for 24 hours. Third, results from experiments with CBR1 promoter constructs indicated that a proximal XRE motif (−122XRE) mediates induction of reporter activity in response to B[a]P. Furthermore, we detected enhanced nuclear translocation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) following B[a]P exposure in A549 cells. Finally, we demonstrated increased binding of specific protein complexes to −122XRE in nuclear extracts from B[a]P-treated cells and the presence of the AhR/Arnt complex in the specific nuclear protein−122XRE complexes.
PMCID: PMC3359411  PMID: 22531821
Human Carbonyl Reductase 1 (CBR1); benzo[a]pyrene; cigarette smoke metabolism

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