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Nat Immunol. 2010 Mar;11(3):197-206. doi: 10.1038/ni.1841. Epub 2010 Feb 7.

Raising the NKT cell family.

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  • 1University of Melbourne, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Parkville, Victoria, Australia. godfrey@unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

Natural killer T cells (NKT cells) are CD1d-restricted, lipid antigen-reactive, immunoregulatory T lymphocytes that can promote cell-mediated immunity to tumors and infectious organisms, including bacteria and viruses, yet paradoxically they can also suppress the cell-mediated immunity associated with autoimmune disease and allograft rejection. Furthermore, in some diseases, such as atherosclerosis and allergy, NKT cell activity can be deleterious to the host. Although the precise means by which these cells carry out such contrasting functions is unclear, recent studies have highlighted the existence of many functionally distinct NKT cell subsets. Because their frequency and number vary widely between individuals, it is important to understand the mechanisms that regulate the development and maintenance of NKT cells and subsets thereof, which is the subject of this review.

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