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Type II NKT Cells: An Elusive Population With Immunoregulatory Properties

Journal article
Authors Avadhesh Kumar Singh
Prabhanshu Tripathi
Susanna Cardell
Published in Frontiers in Immunology
Volume 9
ISSN 1664-3224
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Language en
Keywords type II NKT cells, CD1d, sulfatide, T cell receptor, health and disease, killer t-cells, inflammatory-liver-disease, hepatitis-b-virus, nonobese, diabetic mice, adipose-tissue, cutting edge, mediated activation, ulcerative-colitis, microbial immunity, insulin-resistance, Immunology
Subject categories Immunology in the medical area


Natural killer T (NKT) cells are unique unconventional T cells that are reactive to lipid antigens presented on the non-polymorphic major histocompatibility class (MHC) I-like molecule CD1d. They have characteristics of both innate and adaptive immune cells, and have potent immunoregulatory roles in tumor immunity, autoimmunity, and infectious diseases. Based on their T cell receptor (TCR) expression, NKT cells are divided into two subsets, type I NKT cells with an invariant TCR alpha-chain (V alpha 24 in humans, V alpha 14 in mice) and type II NKT cells with diverse TCRs. While type I NKT cells are well-studied, knowledge about type II NKT cells is still limited, and it is to date only possible to identify subsets of this population. However, recent advances have shown that both type I and type II NKT cells play important roles in many inflammatory situations, and can sometimes regulate the functions of each other. Type II NKT cells can be both protective and pathogenic. Here, we review current knowledge on type II NKT cells and their functions in different disease settings and how these cells can influence immunological outcomes.

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