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Molecular mechanisms involved in the enhancement of Th17 response by aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) - correlation with rheumatoid arthritis

Grant number: 13/04942-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2013
Effective date (End): October 31, 2017
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Immunology - Applied Immunology
Principal Investigator:Fernando de Queiroz Cunha
Grantee:Kalil Alves de Lima
Host Institution: Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto (FMRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:11/19670-0 - Mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis, pain and sepsis, AP.TEM
Associated scholarship(s):16/05013-1 - Characterization of the c-kit-expressing Th17 cells, BE.EP.DR


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune arthropathy mainly mediated by Th17 cells. The development of AR is the result of the interaction between genetic and environmental factors such as exposure to chemicals present in industrial products, pollutants and cigarette smoke. Recently, it was demonstrated that a intracellular sensor of these pollutants, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), is highly expressed in Th17 cells. AHR activation enhances expansion and effector function of these cells, on the other hand, AHR absence or blockage protects the development of experimental arthritis and encephalomyelytis. Thus, the AHR has been considered a link between environmental factors and the triggering of autoimmune diseases. Recent observations suggest that its activation may alter both apoptotic as anti-proliferative pathways and thereby support the survival and expansion of activated cell. In this context, it has been shown correlation between AHR expression and c-Kit receptor, Notch and IL-7R. Notch and IL-7R were previously correlated with expansion of Th17 cells. Additionally, in silico studies suggest that AHR can induce the expression of IL-23 receptor (IL-23R) and IL-1beta (IL-1R1), both related to expansion of Th17 cells. Given this evidence, the objective of the project is to identify the molecular mechanisms involved in enhancement of Th17 response mediated by AHR, focusing on c-Kit receptor, Notch, IL-7R, molecules involved in anti-apoptotic pathways, cell proliferation and Th17 differentiation (IL-23R, IL-1R). For this purpose, we will (1) describe the relationship between AHR and its potential target during in vitro differentiation of Th17 cells, (2) evaluate this relationship during the development of experimental arthritis and finally (3) to correlate the findings with AHR activity, clinical and immune response pattern in biological samples of patients with RA. Such mechanisms may be further used for the development of new therapeutic targets for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as RA.

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
DE LIMA, KALIL ALVES; DONATE, PAULA BARBIM; TALBOT, JHIMMY; DAVOLI-FERREIRA, MARCELA; PERES, RAPHAEL SANCHES; CUNHA, THIAGO MATTAR; ALVES-FILHO, JOSE CARLOS; CUNHA, FERNANDO QUEIROZ. TGF beta 1 signaling sustains aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) expression and restrains the pathogenic potential of T(H)17 cells by an AHR-independent mechanism. CELL DEATH & DISEASE, v. 9, . (13/08216-2, 16/05013-1, 13/04942-0)

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