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Aryl hydrocarbon receptor - In plain language: Dioxin receptor

Author: Peter Röder

An employee of the chemical giant DOW Chemicals once described the aryl hydrocarbon receptor as the most researched object in the history of medicine. Although Dr. Alan Poland, the (major) discoverer of the Ah receptor, has never been adequately honoured for his discovery that was first published in 1976, his work presents the key element of modern medical research.

After Poland had supplied the scientific evidence that mice (strain C57BL/6) whose Ah receptor had been removed via inbreeding were almost immune to the most toxic of all substances, namely dioxin, the relationship between the hazardous substance and most of the so-called civilization diseases has been broken down (genetically) almost completely on the basis of this knowledge in the last 40 years (primarily taking the example of dioxin).

Simply put, it were the missing changes in the mice without Ah receptor that have supported science and the pharmaceutical industry in meticulously breaking down and understanding the relationship between hazardous substance and diseases such as breast cancer, diabetes or prenatal abnormal neural development.
There is no pharmaceutical company worldwide and no university with medical research faculties that does not conduct research or develop drugs on the basis of the Ah receptor signalling pathway.

During their research activities the scientists have come across a cornucopia of new findings. On the other hand, they have still been unable to provide a satisfactory explanation of the actual purpose of this mighty receptor. In contrast to all other receptors in the area of the nervous system or the sexual hormones, science has not found any natural function of this receptor to date.

In view of the fact that an appropriately strong activation of the Ah receptor, e.g., through dioxins, chemotherapy, chemical flame inhibitors or epichlorohydrin, an ubiquitously used solvent (annual German production 260,000 t) does not only trigger potentially lethal diseases (cancer, autoimmune disease), but also causes severe cross-generational genetic changes, the second primary function of the Ah receptor, namely the generation of fertility disorders, prevents the transfer of the genetic defects to the next generation. The same applies to the consequential genetic damage by inbreeding.

Proper consideration of this matter points to the conclusion that this receptor had proven to be extremely useful in the developmental period of our planet, i.e., when the air was fraught with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, soot particles and similar pollutants from volcanoes and the atmosphere had been so thin that it could not detain hard radiation.

Organisms / creatures deviating from their natural shape and form due to these genotoxic impacts were incapable of transferring these genetic defects. This was the guarantor for the preservation of the species.

So-called wildtype mice have no problems in producing healthy offspring, whereas this is impossible for the so-called KO mice (inbreeding/C57BL/6 AhR negative). In most cases, their offspring is born with massive malformations, if at all viable.

Vietnam, or the genotoxic effects of the dioxin-contaminated defoliant “Agent Orange” on the Vietnamese people must be stated to be the most dreadful example of this active potential. Numerous children have been born there with massive malformations to this very day.

In sum, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor decides on the weal and woe of almost every form of life on this planet. When an organism of a person or another creature is not exposed to hazardous substances that activate this receptor, there is a great chance of having produced healthy offspring and of gently passing away naturally in old age, spared from cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, since this receptor - almost equal to a higher being - decides on the “weal and woe” or the “well or waste”, it is internally referred to as “WOW receptor” in this text.