22 March 2018

Collaboration with Penn State University results in an eight-year research initiative titled, "Activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and epithelial integrity".

Together with Prof. Gary Perdew (Penn State University, USA), Ellen van den Bogaard, theme Inflammatory diseases has been awarded a $7.3 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The funding will support an eight-year research initiative titled, "Activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and epithelial integrity."The AHR is activated by ligands, which are specific chemicals which include dioxin and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. But this receptor also binds some endogenous ligands, such as tryptophan metabolites and certain microbial metabolites. Activation can dampen or enhance the inflammatory response, and too much stimulation can cause toxicity and perhaps contribute to chronic disease. The balance between AHR activation and repression requires a tight control but this mechanism is poorly understood. The grant will support studies examining how activating the Ah receptor in the epithelial layer of the skin or gut affects barrier function, production of antimicrobial peptides and resistance to invading bacteria.

The Laboratory for Experimental Dermatology of the Radboudumc receives $600.000 to specifically study the role of the AHR in skin barrier homeostasis and targeting of the receptor to treat inflammatory skin diseases.The program gives scientists intellectual and administrative freedom, as well as sustained support to pursue research in novel directions and to embark on long-term projects that have unusual potential to achieve greater impacts.

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