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European journal of immunology

Extracellular adenosine controls NKT-cell-dependent hepatitis induction.


PMID 24448964

Abstract

Extracellular adenosine regulates inflammatory responses via the A2A adenosine receptor (A2AR). A2AR deficiency results in much exaggerated acute hepatitis, indicating nonredundancy of adenosine-A2AR pathway in inhibiting immune activation. To identify a critical target of immunoregulatory effect of extracellular adenosine, we focused on NKT cells, which play an indispensable role in hepatitis. An A2AR agonist abolished NKT-cell-dependent induction of acute hepatitis by concanavalin A (Con A) or α-galactosylceramide in mice, corresponding to downregulation of activation markers and cytokines in NKT cells and of NK-cell co-activation. These results show that A2AR signaling can downregulate NKT-cell activation and suppress NKT-cell-triggered inflammatory responses. Next, we hypothesized that NKT cells might be under physiological control of the adenosine-A2AR pathway. Indeed, both Con A and α-galactosylceramide induced more severe hepatitis in A2AR-deficient mice than in WT controls. Transfer of A2AR-deficient NKT cells into A2AR-expressing recipients resulted in exaggeration of Con A-induced liver damage, suggesting that NKT-cell activation is controlled by endogenous adenosine via A2AR, and this physiological regulatory mechanism of NKT cells is critical in the control of tissue-damaging inflammation. The current study suggests the possibility to manipulate NKT-cell activity in inflammatory disorders through intervention to the adenosine-A2AR pathway.