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PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e19831. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019831. Epub 2011 Jun 3.

Mice lacking NKT cells but with a complete complement of CD8+ T-cells are not protected against the metabolic abnormalities of diet-induced obesity.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America.


The contribution of natural killer T (NKT) cells to the pathogenesis of metabolic abnormalities of obesity is controversial. While the combined genetic deletion of NKT and CD8(+) T-cells improves glucose tolerance and reduces inflammation, interpretation of these data have been complicated by the recent observation that the deletion of CD8(+) T-cells alone reduces obesity-induced inflammation and metabolic dysregulation, leaving the issue of the metabolic effects of NKT cell depletion unresolved. To address this question, CD1d null mice (CD1d(-/-)), which lack NKT cells but have a full complement of CD8(+) T-cells, and littermate wild type controls (WT) on a pure C57BL/6J background were exposed to a high fat diet, and glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, inflammation, and obesity were assessed. Food intake (15.5±4.3 vs 15.3±1.8 kcal/mouse/day), weight gain (21.8±1.8 vs 22.8±1.4 g) and fat mass (18.6±1.9 vs 19.5±2.1 g) were similar in CD1d(-/-) and WT, respectively. As would be expected from these data, metabolic rate (3.0±0.1 vs 2.9±0.2 ml O(2)/g/h) and activity (21.6±4.3 vs 18.5±2.6 beam breaks/min) were unchanged by NKT cell depletion. Furthermore, the degree of insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, liver steatosis, and adipose and liver inflammatory marker expression (TNFα, IL-6, IL-10, IFN-γ, MCP-1, MIP1α) induced by high fat feeding in CD1d(-/-) were not different from WT. We conclude that deletion of NKT cells, in the absence of alterations in the CD8(+) T-cell population, is insufficient to protect against the development of the metabolic abnormalities of diet-induced obesity.

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