The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) as a drug target for cancer chemotherapy

Stephen Safe, Yating Cheng, Un Ho Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is overexpressed in some patients with different tumor types, and the receptor can be a negative or positive prognostic factor. There is also evidence from both in vivo and in vitro cell culture models that the AhR can exhibit tumor-specific pro-oncogenic and tumor suppressor-like functions and therefore can be treated with AhR antagonists or agonists, respectively. Successful clinical applications of AhR ligands will require the synthesis and development of selective AhR modulators (SAhRMs) with tumor-specific AhR agonist or antagonist activity, and some currently available compounds such as indole-3-carbinol and diindolylmethane-(DIM) and synthetic AhR antagonists are potential drug candidates. There is also evidence that some AhR-active pharmaceuticals, including tranilast, flutamide, hydroxytamoxifen and omeprazole or their derivatives, may be effective AhR-dependent anticancer agents for single or combination cancer chemotherapies for treatment of breast and pancreatic cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-29
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Toxicology
StatePublished - Feb 2017


  • Ah receptor ligands
  • Anticancer activities
  • Tumor specific

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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