Persistent organic pollutants modify gut microbiota–host metabolic homeostasis in mice through aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation

Limin Zhang, Robert G. Nichols, Jared Correll, Iain A. Murray, Naoki Tanaka, Philip B. Smith, Troy D. Hubbard, Aswathy Sebastian, Istvan Albert, Emmanuel Hatzakis, Frank J. Gonzalez, Gary H. Perdew, Andrew D. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

251 Scopus citations


Background: Alteration of the gut microbiota through diet and environmental contaminants may disturb physiological homeostasis, leading to various diseases including obesity and type 2 diabetes. Because most exposure to environmentally persistent organic pollutants (POPs) occurs through the diet, the host gastro intestinal tract and commensal gut microbiota are likely to be exposed to POPs. oBjectives: We examined the effect of 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro dibenzofuran (TCDF), a persistent environmental contaminant, on gut microbiota and host metabolism, and we examined correlations between gut microbiota composition and signaling pathways. Methods: Six-week-old male wild-type and Ahr–/– mice on the C57BL/6J background were treated with 24 μg/kg TCDF in the diet for 5 days. We used 16S rRNA gene sequencing,1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) metabolomics, targeted ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with triplequadrupole mass spectrometry, and biochemical assays to determine the microbiota compositions and the physiological and metabolic effects of TCDF. results: Dietary TCDF altered the gut microbiota by shifting the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes. TCDF-treated mouse cecal contents were enriched with Butyrivibrio spp. but depleted in Oscillobacter spp. compared with vehicle-treated mice. These changes in the gut microbiota were associated with altered bile acid metabolism. Further, dietary TCDF inhibited the farnesoid X receptor (FXR) signaling pathway, triggered significant infammation and host metabolic disorders as a result of activation of bacterial fermentation, and altered hepatic lipo genesis, gluco neo genesis, and glyco genolysis in an AHR-dependent manner. conclusion: These findings provide new insights into the biochemical consequences of TCDF exposure involving the alteration of the gut microbiota, modulation of nuclear receptor signaling, and disruption of host metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-688
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 6 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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