John Libbey Eurotext

European Journal of Dermatology


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor pathway plays a central role in the cutaneous response to pollutants Volume 32, issue 3, May-June 2022


  • Figure 1.
  • Figure 2.
1 CNRS UMR5305 LBTI, 7 passage du vercors, 69367 Lyon cedex 7, France
2 University Claude Bernard Lyon 1, 43 Boulevard du 11 Novembre 1918, 69100 Villeurbanne, France
3 CIRI (International Center for Infectiology Research) INSERM U1111, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, University Claude Bernard Lyon 1, CNRS UMR5308, 21 avenue Tony Garnier, 69007 Lyon, France
4 Allergy and Clinical Immunology Department, Lyon Sud University Hospital,165 chemin Grand Revoyet, 69495 Pierre Bénite cedex, France
Reprints: Cécile Guillon

Short- and long-term exposure to atmospheric pollution has significant health effects. The skin is the organ directly in contact with pollutants and is responsible for protection of the organism. Particulate matter (PM) such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are the basis of certain pulmonary as well as dermatological complications. Pollution exacerbates certain illnesses such as atopic dermatitis and cancer, and it may also participate in delaying wound healing and in the occurrence of chronic ailments such as diabetes. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) transcription factor, at the core of these responses to pollutants, is expressed by all cells of the skin. The AhR is subject to tight regulation that depends on its ligand. Pollutants act in a deleterious manner via the AhR, influencing the behaviour of keratinocytes as well as fibroblasts. Natural ligands, on the other hand, allow the noxious effects of pollution to be countered. This non-systematic review of the literature shows that modulation of AhR appears to be an excellent therapeutic approach to improve or stop the cutaneous problems linked to pollution.