Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) ligands as selective ahr modulators (SAHRMS)

Stephen Safe, Un Ho Jin, Hyejin Park, Robert S. Chapkin, Arul Jayaraman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) was first identified as the intracellular protein that bound and mediated the toxic effects of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD, dioxin) and dioxin-like compounds (DLCs). Subsequent studies show that the AhR plays an important role in maintaining cellular homeostasis and in pathophysiology, and there is increasing evidence that the AhR is an important drug target. The AhR binds structurally diverse compounds, including pharmaceuticals, phytochemicals and endogenous biochemicals, some of which may serve as endogenous ligands. Classification of DLCs and non-DLCs based on their persistence (metabolism), toxicities, binding to wild-type/mutant AhR and structural similarities have been reported. This review provides data suggesting that ligands for the AhR are selective AhR modulators (SAhRMs) that exhibit tissue/cell-specific AhR agonist and antagonist activities, and that their functional diversity is similar to selective receptor modulators that target steroid hormone and other nuclear receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6654
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 11 2020


  • Agonist
  • AhR
  • Antagonist
  • Ligand selectivity
  • Hormones/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon/agonists
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Steroids/metabolism
  • Homeostasis/drug effects
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear/metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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