NKT cells are considered to be innate-like regulatory cells. However, their regulatory functions in adaptive immune responses have not been studied in detail. In this study, we investigated the immunoregulatory functions of NKT cells during the secondary phase of an Ag-specific CD4+ T cell response. When compared with OVA-specific effector CD4+ T cells adoptively transferred into NKT cell-deficient naive CD1d-/- mice, the same T cells transferred into naive CD1d+/- mice exhibited substantially stronger immune responses on OVA challenge. The enhanced immune response of the transferred CD4+ T cells in the presence of NKT cells correlated with an increase in their proliferation in vivo. In addition, T cells transferred into CD1d+/- recipients showed enhanced cytokine productions relative to T cells in CD1d-/- recipients. To elucidate the physiological relevance of the regulatory role of NKT cells in a disease setting, OVA-specific asthma was induced in recipient mice after adoptive transfer of OVA-specific CD4+ T cells. CD1d+/- recipients showed stronger asthmatic phenotypes in all indications when compared with CD1d2/2 recipients. Taken together, these results suggest that NKT cells are critical for the regulation of Ag-specific, conventional CD4+ T cells during the secondary phase of an adaptive immune response.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy