New Insight into the Role of AhR in Lung Carcinogenesis

Dinara A. Akhmetova, Vadim V. Kozlov, Ludmila F. Gulyaeva

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Lung cancer (LC), one of the most common malignant neoplasms, is the leading cause of high cancer mortality worldwide. Smoking is a risk factor for almost all histological types of LC. Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), one of the main constituents of tobacco smoke, can cause cancer. It has been established that its toxic effects can develop in the following ways: genotoxic (formation of adducts with DNA) and non-genotoxic or epigenetic. The latter is less known, although it is known that BaP activates aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), which regulate transcription of many target genes, including microRNAs, which can lead to initiation and enhancement of the malignant cell transformation. Recent studies are evaluating the role of AhR in the regulation of immune checkpoints, as cigarette smoke and BaP induce the AhR-regulated expression of PD-L1 (CD274) in lung epithelial cells in vitro and in vivo. In addition, kynurenine (a metabolite of tryptophan) has been found to stimulate the PD-1 (CD279) expression in cytotoxic T cells by activating AhR. Recent studies confirm great importance of AhR expressed in malignant cells for suppression of antitumor immunity. All this makes us rethink the role of AhR in lung carcinogenesis and investigate the mechanisms of its activation by exogenous and endogenous ligands. This review highlights the current understanding of the functional features of AhR and its role in the LC pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1219-1225
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemistry (Moscow)
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • AhR
  • benzo[a]pyrene
  • cigarette smoke
  • lung cancer
  • PD-1
  • PD-L1




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