The aryl hydrocarbon receptor as a mediator of host-microbiota interplay

Fangcong Dong, Gary H. Perdew

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Increasing evidence suggests a significant role for microbiota dependent metabolites and co-metabolites, acting as aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) ligands, to facilitate bidirectional communication between the host and the microbiota and thus modulate physiology. Such communication is particularly evident within the gastrointestinal tract. Through binding to or activating the AHR, these metabolites play fundamental roles in various physiological processes and likely contribute to the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis. In recent years, tryptophan metabolites were screened to identify physiologically relevant AHR ligands or activators. The discovery of specific microbiota-derived indole-based metabolites as AHR ligands may provide insight concerning how these metabolites affect interactions between gut microbiota and host intestinal homeostasis and how this relates to chronic GI disease and overall health. A greater understanding of the mechanisms that modulate the production of such metabolites and associated AHR activity may be utilized to effectively treat inflammatory diseases and promote human health. Here, we review microbiota-derived AHR ligands generated from tryptophan that modulate host-gut microbiota interactions and discuss possible intervention strategies for potential therapies in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1859812
JournalGut microbes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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