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J Immunol. 1999 Nov 1;163(9):4647-50.

Cutting edge: Cross-talk between cells of the innate immune system: NKT cells rapidly activate NK cells.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, NJ 08544, USA.


alpha-Galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer) is a glycolipid with potent antitumor properties that binds to CD1d molecules and activates mouse Valpha14 and human Valpha24 NKT cells. Surprisingly, we found that, as early as 90 min after alpha-GalCer injection in vivo, NK cells also displayed considerable signs of activation, including IFN-gamma production and CD69 induction. NK activation was not observed in RAG- or CD1-deficient mice, and it was decreased by pretreatment with anti-IFN-gamma Abs, suggesting that, despite its rapid induction, it was a secondary event that depended on IFN-gamma release by NKT cells. At later time points, B cells and CD8 T cells also began to express CD69. These findings identify a high-speed communication network between the innate and adaptive immune systems in vivo that is initiated upon NKT cell activation. They also suggest that the antitumor effects of alpha-GalCer result from the sequential recruitment of distinct innate and adaptive effector lymphocytes.

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