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J Immunol. 2007 Mar 1;178(5):2706-13.

Invariant NKT cells amplify the innate immune response to lipopolysaccharide.

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  • 1Division of Developmental Immunology, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, 9420 Athena Circle, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


NKT cells are thought of as a bridge between innate and adaptive immunity. In this study, we demonstrate that mouse NKT cells are activated in response to Escherichia coli LPS, and produce IFN-gamma, but not IL-4, although activation through their TCR typically induces both IL-4 and IFN-gamma production. IFN-gamma production by NKT cells is dependent on LPS-induced IL-12 and IL-18 from APC. LPS induced IFN-gamma production by NKT cells does not require CD1d-mediated presentation of an endogenous Ag and exposure to a combination of IL-12 and IL-18 is sufficient to activate them. In mice that are deficient for NKT cells, innate immune cells are activated less efficiently in response to LPS, resulting in the reduced production of TNF and IFN-gamma. We propose that in addition to acting as a bridge to adaptive immunity, NKT cells act as an early amplification step in the innate immune response and that the rapid and complete initiation of this innate response depends on the early production of IFN-gamma by NKT cells.

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