Bidirectional communication between the Aryl hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR) and the microbiome tunes host metabolism
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The ligand-induced transcription factor, aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is known for its capacity to tune adaptive immunity and xenobiotic metabolism-biological properties subject to regulation by the indigenous microbiome. The objective of this study was to probe the postulated microbiome-AhR crosstalk and whether such an axis could influence metabolic homeostasis of the host. Utilising a systems-biology approach combining in-depth (1)H-NMR-based metabonomics (plasma, liver and skeletal muscle) with microbiome profiling (small intestine, colon and faeces) of AhR knockout (AhR(-/-)) and wild-type (AhR(+/+)) mice, we assessed AhR function in host metabolism. Microbiome metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids were found to regulate AhR and its target genes in liver and intestine. The AhR signalling pathway, in turn, was able to influence microbiome composition in the small intestine as evident from microbiota profiling of the AhR(+/+) and AhR(-/-) mice fed with diet enriched with a specific AhR ligand or diet depleted of any known AhR ligands. The AhR(-/-) mice also displayed increased levels of corticosterol and alanine in serum. In addition, activation of gluconeogenic genes in the AhR(-/-) mice was indicative of on-going metabolic stress. Reduced levels of ketone bodies and reduced expression of genes involved in fatty acid metabolism in the liver further underscored this observation. Interestingly, exposing AhR(-/-) mice to a high-fat diet showed resilience to glucose intolerance. Our data suggest the existence of a bidirectional AhR-microbiome axis, which influences host metabolic pathways.
- Biomedical Sciences [148 items ]