Scientific article

AhR signalling and dioxin toxicity

ContributorsSorg, Olivier
Published inToxicology letters, vol. 230, no. 2, p. 225-233
Publication date2014

Dioxins are a family of molecules associated to several industrial accidents such as Ludwigshafen in 1953 or Seveso in 1976, to the Agent Orange used during the war of Vietnam, and more recently to the poisoning of the former president of Ukraine, Victor Yushchenko. These persistent organic pollutants are by-products of industrial activity and bind to an intracellular receptor, AhR, with a high potency. In humans, exposure to dioxins, in particular 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) induces a cutaneous syndrome known as chloracne, consisting in the development of many small skin lesions (hamartoma), lasting for 2-5 years. Although TCDD has been classified by the WHO as a human carcinogen, its carcinogenic potential to humans is not clearly demonstrated. It was first believed that AhR activation accounted for most, if not all, biological properties of dioxins. However, certain AhR agonists found in vegetables do not induce chloracne, and other chemicals, in particular certain therapeutic agents, may induce a chloracne-like syndrome without activating AhR. It is time to rethink the mechanism of dioxin toxicity and analyse in more details the biological events following exposure to these compounds and other AhR agonists, some of which have a very different chemical structure than TCDD. In particular various food-containing AhR agonists are non-toxic and may on the contrary have beneficial properties to human health.

  • Animals
  • Chloracne/etiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms/chemically induced
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon/drug effects/physiology
  • Reproduction/drug effects
  • Signal Transduction/drug effects
  • Skin/drug effects
  • Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin/toxicity
Citation (ISO format)
SORG, Olivier. AhR signalling and dioxin toxicity. In: Toxicology letters, 2014, vol. 230, n° 2, p. 225–233. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2013.10.039
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0378-4274

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