Several compounds originating from cruciferous vegetables and citrus fruits bind to and activate the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). This receptor plays an important role in the toxicity of the known tumour promoter and potent AhR-agonist 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). However, vegetables and fruits are generally considered as healthy. Therefore, besides the AhR activation, the natural AhR agonists (NAhRAs) are assumed to show other health-concerning effects. AhR activation induces several cytochrome P450 phase I enzymes involved, e.g. in the bioactivation of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, like benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), and may as such stimulate DNA adduct formation of those compounds. Therefore, the influence of TCDD, indolo[3,2-b]carbazole (ICZ, an NAhRA originating from cruciferous vegetables) and an NAhRA-containing extract of grapefruit juice (GJE) on BaP-DNA adduct formation in the human Caco-2 cell line was studied. Also, we investigated if different effects of TCDD, ICZ and GJE on adduct formation could be related to the modulation of transcription of biotransformation- and DNA-repair enzymes. Co-exposure to high AhR-activating concentrations of both TCDD and ICZ significantly reduced the amount of BaP-DNA adducts at 0.1 muM BaP, while at higher concentrations of BaP no influence was observed. In contrast, exposure to 0.1 muM BaP combined with GJE showed a significant increase in BaP-DNA adducts, and a significant decrease at 0.3 and 1 muM BaP. These differences could not be related to transcription of the phase I and II enzymes CYP1A1, CYP1B1, NQO1, GSTP1 and UGT1A6 or to transcription of the nucleotide excision repair enzymes ERCC1, XPA, XPC, XPF and XPG. We conclude that ICZ showed a similar effect on BaP-DNA adduct formation than TCDD, while GJE influenced the adduct formation in a different way. The difference in the influence on adduct formation may be due to effects at the level of enzyme activity, rather than gene expression. AD - Department of Health Risk Analysis and Toxicology, Maastricht University, PO box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.