During interaction with APCs, invariant (i) NKT cells are thought to be indirectly activated by TLR4-dependently activated APCs. However, whether TLR4 directly activates iNKT cells is unknown. Therefore, the expression and function of TLR4 in iNKT cells were investigated. Flow cytometric and confocal microscopic analysis revealed TLR4 expression on the surface and in the endosome of iNKT cells. Upon LPS stimulation, iNKT cells enhanced IFN-γ production, but reduced IL-4 production, in the presence of TCR signals, depending on TLR4, MyD88, TRIF, and the endosome. However, enhanced TLR4-mediated IFN-γ production by iNKT cells did not affect IL-12 production or CD1d expression by DCs. Adoptive transfer of WT, but not TLR4-deficient, iNKT cells promoted antibody-induced arthritis in CD1d-/- mice, suggesting that endogenous TLR4 ligands modulate iNKT cell function in arthritis. Furthermore, LPS-pretreated WT, but not TLR4-deficient, iNKT cells suppressed pulmonary fibrosis, but worsened hypersensitivity pneumonitis more than untreated WT iNKT cells, indicating that exogenous TLR4 ligands regulate iNKT cell functions in pulmonary diseases. Taken together, we propose a novel direct activation pathway of iNKT cells in the presence of TCR signals via endogenous or exogenous ligand-mediated engagement of TLR4 in iNKT cells, which regulates immune diseases by altering IFN-γ and IL-4 production.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)