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Aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation by benzo(a)pyrene inhibits proliferation of myeloid precursor cells and alters the differentiation state as well as the functional phenotype of murine bone marrow-derived macrophages

: Riemschneider, Sina; Kohlschmidt, Janine; Füldner, Christiane; Esser, Charlotte; Hauschildt, Sunna; Lehmann, Jörg


Toxicology letters 296 (2018), S.106-113
ISSN: 0378-4274
ISSN: 1879-3169
Fraunhofer IZI ()
aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR); benzo(a)pyrene (BaP); macrophage; differentiation

Intensive research during the past decade has highlighted the impact of the regulatory function of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in immunity. In this study, we focused on the influence of AhR activation on the differentiation of murine bone marrow-derived myeloid precursor cells into mature macrophages. Our results show that the activation of AhR by subtoxic doses of the AhR ligand benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) impaired the proliferation of bone marrow cells (BMCs) whereas the proportion of resulting adherent cells was not affected. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that the number of mature bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMMs) was significantly decreased by AhR activation. However, expression of the murine macrophage marker F4/80, the major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) and the Fcγ receptor I (FcγRI/CD64) were upregulated on BaP-exposed BMMs in an AhR-dependent manner. Analysis of cytokine secretion after BMM activation with heat-killed (hk) salmonellae showed that BaP exposure resulted in suppressed secretion of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6 and the chemokine CXC motif ligand 1 (CXCL1). In contrast, the release of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and IL-10 was increased following BaP exposure. In addition, the production of antimicrobial nitric oxide (NO) was increased AhR-dependently. Bacterial stimulation of BaP exposed BMMs also induced the expression of MHC-II and CD64, while the expression of F4/80 was dramatically decreased. In summary, this study demonstrates for the first time that sustained exposure over 6 days of bone marrow-derived myeloid precursors to subtoxic doses of BaP critically interferes with differentiation and activation of BMMs. We could convincingly show that AhR-induced gene regulation is crucial for homeostasis of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines during macrophage activation.