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The Yin and Yang of invariant Natural Killer T Cells in Tumor immunity-Suppression of Tumor immunity in the intestine

Review article
Authors Ying Wang
Susanna Cardell
Published in Frontiers in Immunology
Volume 8
ISSN 1664-3224
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Language en
Keywords natural killer T cells, CD1d, tumor immunity, immunosuppression, intestinal inflammation, intestinal, ii nkt cells, ulcerative-colitis, epithelial cd1d, murine cd1, mice, cancer, mouse, activation, expression, immunosurveillance, Immunology
Subject categories Immunology


CD1d-restricted invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are known as early responding, potent regulatory cells of immune responses. Besides their established role in the regulation of inflammation and autoimmune disease, numerous studies have shown that iNKT cells have important functions in tumor immunosurveillance and control of tumor metastasis. Tumor-infiltrating T helper 1 (TH1)/cytotoxic T lymphocytes have been associated with a positive prognosis. However, inflammation has a dual role in cancer and chronic inflammation is believed to be a driving force in many cancers as exemplified in patients with inflammatory bowel disease that have an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Indeed, NKT cells promote intestinal inflammation in human ulcerative colitis, and the associated animal model, indicating that NKT cells may favor tumor development in intestinal tissue. In contrast to other cancers, recent data from animal models suggest that iNKT cells promote tumor formation in the intestine by supporting an immunoregulatory tumor microenvironment and suppressing TH1 antitumor immunity. Here, we review the role of iNKT cells in suppression of tumor immunity in light of iNKT-cell regulation of intestinal inflammation. We also discuss suppression of immunity in other situations as well as factors that may influence whether iNKT cells have a protective or an immunosuppressive and tumor-promoting role in tumor immunity.

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