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Activation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor signaling by a novel agonist ameliorates autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Abdullah, A;Maged, M;Hairul-Islam M, I;Osama I, A;Maha, H;Manal, A;Hamza, H;

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a widespread neurological autoimmune disease that includes episodes of demyelination in the central nervous system (CNS). The accumulated evidence has suggested that aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr), a ligand-activated transcription factor, is a promising treatment target for MS. Thus, the current study aimed to identify a novel Ahr ligand with anti-inflammatory potential in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). An in silico analysis was carried out to predict interactions between Ahr and potential natural ligands. The effects of a predicted interaction were examined in vitro using CD4+ T cells under T helper17 (Th17) cell-polarizing conditions and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated macrophages. Silencing Ahr and microRNA (miR)-132 was achieved by electroporation. Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)35-55 and the adoptive transfer of encephalitogenic CD4+ T cells were used to induce EAE. Molecular docking analysis and in vitro data identified gallic acid (GA) as a novel Ahr ligand with potent activation potential. GA induced the expression of Ahr downstream genes, including cytochrome P450 family 1 subfamily A member 1 (Cyp1a1) and the miR-212/132 cluster, and promoted the formation of the Ahr/Ahr nuclear translocator (Arnt) complex. In vivo, GA-treated mice were resistant to EAE and exhibited reduced levels of proinflammatory cytokines and increased levels of transforming growth factor- (TGF-). Furthermore, GA reduced infiltration of CD4+CD45+ T cells and monocytes into the CNS. The anti-inflammatory effects of GA were concomitant with miR-132-potentiated cholinergic anti-inflammation and the regulation of the pathogenic potential of astrocytes and microglia. Inducing EAE by adoptive transfer revealed that CD4+ T cells were not entirely responsible for the ameliorative effects of GA. Our findings identify GA as a novel Ahr ligand and provide molecular mechanisms elucidating the ameliorative effects of GA on EAE, suggesting that GA is a potential therapeutic agent to control inflammation in autoimmune diseases such as MS.