Natural killer T cells: natural or unnatural regulators of autoimmunity?

  • Hammond K
  • Kronenberg M
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Natural killer T (NKT) cells are a unique lymphocyte subtype implicated in the regulation of autoimmunity, particularly diabetes and experimental allergic encephalomyelitis in animal models. In some reports, NKT-cell regulation was revealed only following vigorous activation by a synthetic glycolipid, a process that might not occur naturally. Patients with diverse autoimmune diseases have reduced NKT-cell counts and, in diabetes and multiple sclerosis, effective NKT-cell regulation correlates with the secretion of Th2 cytokines. Although current controversy surrounds the importance of NKT cells and their modes of action, they represent a potentially important clinical target.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • T-Lymphocytes
  • immunology

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  • Kirsten J L Hammond

  • Mitchell Kronenberg

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