The mechanistic basis for the strong toxicity of many halogenated dioxin-like substances and non-halogenated polycyclic aromatic compounds is still not well understood and therefore is the risk assessment uncertain. The so called aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is a cellular receptor protein, which is activated, directly or indirectly, by these types of compounds and many other endocrine disrupting compounds. AHR activation is considered important for many toxic effects observed in animals and humans. We have revealed that the AHR is activated by light and that the photoproduct 6-formylindolo[3,2-b]carbazole (FICZ), which is formed by exposure of the amino acid tryptophan to light, is a candidate endogenous AHR ligand. Ongoing studies focus on the characterization of cellular and physiological effects of FICZ.
We also explore the mechanistic bases of gene-environment interactions. How do genetically determined differences in biotransformation capacity influence the effects of chemicals in the work environment and in the general environment?
The Ah-receptor studies are performed within two projects that are supported by the Swedish Research Council Formas.