Tryptophan (Trp) modulates gut homeostasis via aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)

Meige Sun, Ning Ma, Ting He, Lee J. Johnston, Xi Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The intestinal homeostasis is an orchestrated dynamic equilibrium state composed of the coexistence and interactions among the nutrients, microbial flora, and immune system. The intestinal balance disorder can trigger a series of diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Many of tryptophan (Trp) metabolites, such as kynurenine and indole, generated under a series of endogenous enzymes or microbial metabolism, have been reported enable to bind and activate the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), this series of process is termed the Trp-AhR pathway. The activated Trp-AhR pathway can induce the expression of downstream cytokines such as interleukin-22 (IL-22) and interleukin-17 (IL-17), thereby regulating the intestinal homeostasis. This review highlights the advance of Trp-AhR pathway in the regulation of intestinal homeostasis and provides some insights for the clinical strategies that expect to effectively prevent and treat gut diseases via intervening the Trp-AhR pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1760-1768
Number of pages9
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 30 2020


  • Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)
  • immune barrier
  • inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • intestinal homeostasis
  • tryptophan (Trp)

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review

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