PloS one

Invariant NKT cells act as an adjuvant to enhance Th2 inflammatory response in an OVA-induced mouse model of asthma.

PMID 25830340


Invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT cells) are a unique subset of T lymphocytes and are considered to play an important role in the development of allergic bronchial asthma. Recently, iNKT cells were shown to play an immunoregulatory role in CD4+ and CD8+ T cell-mediated adaptive immune response. Allergen-specific Th2 inflammatory responses are an important part of the adaptive immune response in asthma. However, the regulatory functions of the Th2 inflammatory response in asthma have not been studied in detail. In this study, we have investigated the regulatory functions of iNKT cells on the Th2 inflammatory response in an ovalbumin (OVA)-induced murine model of asthma. Our results demonstrate that α-Galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) administration activated iNKT cells but could not induce the Th2 inflammatory response in wild-type (WT) mice. In the OVA-induced asthma model, α-GalCer administration and adoptive transfer of iNKT cells significantly augmented the Th2 inflammatory responses, including elevated inflammatory cell infiltration in the lung and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF); increased levels of IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 in the BALF and splenocyte culture supernatant; and increased serum levels of OVA-specific IgE and IgG1. In addition, the Th2 inflammatory response was reduced, but not completely abrogated in CD1d-/- mice immunized and challenged with OVA, compared with WT mice. These results suggest that iNKT cells may serve as an adjuvant to enhance Th2 inflammatory response in an OVA-induced murine model of asthma.