Species differences in specific ligand-binding affinity and activation of AHR: The biological basis for calculation of relative effective potencies and toxic equivalence factors

David L. Eaton, Ted W. Simon, Norbert E. Kaminski, Gary H. Perdew, Daniel W. Nebert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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In 2022 the World Health Organization (WHO) published updated ‘Toxic Equivalence Factors’ (TEFs) for a wide variety of chlorinated dioxins, dibenzofurans and PCBs [collectively referred to as ‘dioxin-like chemicals’; DLCs) that interact with the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR)]. Their update used sophisticated statistical analysis of hundreds of published studies that reported estimation of ‘Relative Effective Potency’ (REP) values for individual DLC congeners. The weighting scheme used in their assessment of each study favored in vivo over in vitro studies and was based largely on rodent studies. In this Commentary, we highlight the large body of published studies that demonstrate large species differences in AHR-ligand activation and provide supporting evidence for our position that the WHO 2022 TEF values intended for use in human risk assessment of DLC mixtures will provide highly misleading overestimates of ‘Toxic Equivalent Quotients’ (TEQs), because of well-recognized striking differences in AHR ligand affinities between rodent (rat, mouse) and human. The data reviewed in our Commentary support the position that human tissue-derived estimates of REP/TEF values for individual DLC congeners, although uncertain, will provide much better, more realistic estimates of potential activation of the human AHR, when exposure to complex DLC mixtures occurs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105598
JournalRegulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology
StatePublished - May 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology

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