AHR Ligands May Be Beneficial in Thyroid Eye Disease

HealthDay News — Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and AHR ligands prevent formation of transforming growth factor (TGF)-β-dependent myofibroblast formation in thyroid eye disease, according to research published in The American Journal of Pathology.

Noting that the signaling pathway for TGF-β, which induces myofibroblast formation, is influenced by AHR signaling pathways, Collynn F. Woeller, PhD, from the Flaum Eye Institute in Rochester, New York, and colleagues examined whether AHR agonists could prevent myofibroblast formation in fibroblasts from patients with thyroid eye disease. Patients with thyroid eye disease had orbital fibroblasts explanted and were treated with TGF-β to induce myoblast formation, contraction, and proliferation.

The researchers found that AHR ligands averted formation of TGF-β-dependent myofibroblasts, and this was dependent on AHR expression. The AHR and AHR ligands blocked profibrotic Wnt signaling by inhibition of GSK3β phosphorylation in order to prevent formation of myofibroblasts.

“These results provide new insight into the molecular pathways underlying orbital scarring in thyroid eye disease,” the researchers wrote. “These novel studies highlight the potential of the AHR and AHR ligands as future therapeutic options for eye diseases and possibly also for other scarring conditions.”

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  1. Woeller CF, Roztocil E, Hammond CL, Feldon SE, Phipps RP. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor and its ligands inhibit myofibroblast formation and activation: Implications for thyroid eye disease. Am J Pathol. 2016 Nov 11. doi:10.1016/j.ajpath.2016.08.017 [Epub ahead of print].