iNKT cells are required for the induction of airway hyperreactivity (AHR), a cardinal feature of asthma, but how iNKT cells traffic to the lungs to induce AHR has not been previously studied. Using several models of asthma, we demonstrated that iNKT cells required the chemokine receptor CCR4 for pulmonary localization and for the induction of AHR. In both allergen-induced and glycolipid-induced models of AHR, wild-type but not CCR4-/- mice developed AHR. Furthermore, adoptive transfer of wild-type but not CCR4-/- iNKT cells reconstituted AHR in iNKT cell-deficient mice. Moreover, we specifically tracked CCR4-/- vs wild-type iNKT cells in CCR4-/-:wild-type mixed BM chimeric mice in the resting state, and when AHR was induced by protein allergen or glycolipid. Using this unique model, we showed that both iNKT cells and conventional T cells required CCR4 for competitive localization into the bronchoalveolar lavage/airways compartment. These results establish for the first time that the pulmonary localization of iNKT cells critical for the induction of AHR requires CCR4 expression by iNKT cells.
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