Zinc nutritional status modulates expression of AhR-responsive P450 enzymes in vascular endothelial cells

Huiyun Shen, Xabier Arzuaga, Michal Toborek, Bernhard Hennig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Zinc has anti-inflammatory properties and is crucial for the integrity of vascular endothelial cells, and the development and homeostasis of the cardiovascular system. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) which is expressed in the vascular endothelium also plays an important role in responses to xenobiotic exposure and cardiovascular development. We hypothesize that cellular zinc can modulate induction of AhR-responsive genes in endothelial cells. To determine if zinc deficiency can alter responses to AhR ligands, aortic endothelial cells were exposed to the AhR ligands 3,3′,4,4′-tetrachlorobiphenyl (PCB77) or beta-naphthoflavone (β-NF) alone or in combination with the membrane permeable zinc chelator TPEN, followed by measurements of the AhR-responsive cytochrome P450 enzymes CYP1A1 and 1B1. Compared to vehicle-treated cells, both PCB77-induced CYP1A1 activity (EROD) and mRNA expression were significantly reduced during zinc deficiency. In addition, PCB77 and β-NF-mediated up-regulation of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 protein expression was significantly reduced in zinc-deficient endothelial cells. The inhibition of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 protein expression caused by zinc deficiency was reversible by cellular zinc supplementation. Overall, our results strongly suggest that nutrition can modulate an environmental toxicant-induced biological outcome and that adequate levels of individual nutrients such as zinc are necessary for induction of AhR-responsive genes in vascular endothelial cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-201
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grants from NIH (P42ES07380), the University of Kentucky AES and the University of Kentucky Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellowship.


  • AhR
  • CYP1A1
  • CYP1B1
  • EROD
  • Zinc deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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