NAD+ loss, a new player in AhR biology: prevention of thymus atrophy and hepatosteatosis by NAD+ repletion

Written by
Silvia Diani-Moore
Published on
August 30, 2021 at 3:16:00 PM PDT August 30, 2021 at 3:16:00 PM PDTth, August 30, 2021 at 3:16:00 PM PDT

Authors: Diani-Moore S, Shoots J, Singh R, Zuk JB, Rifkind AB


Dioxin (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, TCDD) is a carcinogenic and highly toxic industrial byproduct that persists in the environment and produces a pleiotropic toxicity syndrome across vertebrate species that includes wasting, hepatosteatosis, and thymus atrophy. Dioxin toxicities require binding and activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a ligand activated transcription factor. However, after nearly 50 years of study, it remains unknown how AhR activation by dioxin produces toxic effects. Here, using the chick embryo close to hatching, a well-accepted model for dioxin toxicity, we identify NAD+ loss through PARP activation as a novel unifying mechanism for diverse effects of dioxin in vivo. We show that NAD+ loss is attributable to increased PARP activity in thymus and liver, as cotreatment with dioxin and the PARP inhibitor PJ34 increased NAD+ levels and prevented both thymus atrophy and hepatosteatosis. Our findings additionally support a role for decreased NAD+ dependent Sirt6 activity in mediating dioxin toxicity following PARP activation. Strikingly, treatment in vivo with the NAD+ repleting agent nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3, prevented thymus atrophy and hepatosteatosis by dioxin and increased sirtuin activity, providing a therapeutic approach for preventing dioxin toxicities in vivo.

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