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Inflammatory Bowel Diseases:
doi: 10.1097/MIB.0b013e318280b1e3
Basic Science Review Article

The Functions of Type I and Type II Natural Killer T Cells in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Liao, Chia-Min PhD*,†,‡; Zimmer, Michael I. PhD§; Wang, Chyung-Ru PhD*

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Abstract

CD1d-restricted natural killer T (NKT) cells are a distinct subset of T cells that rapidly produce an array of cytokines on activation and play a critical role in regulating various immune responses. NKT cells are classified into 2 groups based on differences in T-cell receptor usage. Type I NKT cells have an invariant T-cell receptor α-chain and are readily detectable by α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer)–loaded CD1d tetramers. Type II NKT cells have a more diverse T-cell receptor repertoire and cannot be directly identified. Both types of NKT cells and multiple CD1d-expressing cell types are present in the intestine, and their interactions are likely to be modulated by pathogenic and commensal microbes, which in turn contribute to the intestinal immune responses in health and disease. Indeed, in several animal models of inflammatory bowel disease, type I NKT cells have been shown to make both protective and pathogenic contributions to disease. In contrast, in patients with ulcerative colitis, and a mouse model in which both CD1d expression and the frequency of type II NKT cells are increased, type II NKT cells seem to promote intestinal inflammation. In this review, we summarize the present knowledge on the antigen recognition, activation, and function of NKT cells with a particular focus on their role in inflammatory bowel disease and discuss factors that may influence the functional outcome of NKT cell responses in intestinal inflammation.

Copyright © 2013 Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.

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