© 2017 Hammerschmidt-Kamper et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. In general, dietary antigens are tolerated by the gut associated immune system. Impairment of this so-called oral tolerance is a serious health risk. We have previously shown that activation of the ligand-dependent transcription factor aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) by the environmental pollutant 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) affects both oral tolerance and food allergy. In this study, we determine whether a common plant-derived, dietary AhR-ligand modulates oral tolerance as well. We therefore fed mice with indole-3-carbinole (I3C), an AhR ligand that is abundant in cruciferous plants. We show that several I3C metabolites were detectable in the serum after feeding, including the high-affinity ligand 3,3´-diin-dolylmethane (DIM). I3C feeding robustly induced the AhR-target gene CYP4501A1 in the intestine; I3C feeding also induced the aldh1 gene, whose product catalyzes the formation of retinoic acid (RA), an inducer of regulatory T cells. We then measured parameters indicating oral tolerance and severity of peanut-induced food allergy. In contrast to the tolerance-breaking effect of TCDD, feeding mice with chow containing 2 g/kg I3C lowered the serum anti-ovalbumin IgG1 response in an experimental oral tolerance protocol. Moreover, I3C feeding attenuated symptoms of peanut allergy. In conclusion, the dietary compound I3C can positively influence a vital immune function of the gut.
Hammerschmidt-Kamper, C., Biljes, D., Merches, K., Steiner, I., Daldrup, T., Bol-Schoenmakers, M., … Esser, C. (2017). Indole-3-carbinol, a plant nutrient and AhR-Ligand precursor, supports oral tolerance against OVA and improves peanut allergy symptoms in mice. PLoS ONE, 12(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180321