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J Immunol. 2000 Apr 15;164(8):4375-81.

Differential expression of NK T cell V alpha 24J alpha Q invariant TCR chain in the lesions of multiple sclerosis and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

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  • 1Department of Demyelinating Disease and Aging, National Institute of Neuroscience, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Ogawahigashi, Kodaira, Tokyo, Japan.


Human V alpha 24+ NK T cells are a unique subset of lymphocytes expressing the V alpha 24J alpha Q invariant TCR chain. Because they can rapidly produce large amounts of regulatory cytokines, a reduction of NK T cells may lead to the development of certain autoimmune diseases. Using a single-strand conformation polymorphism method, we demonstrate that a great reduction of V alpha 24J alpha Q NK T cells in the peripheral blood is an immunological hallmark of multiple sclerosis, whereas it is not appreciable in other autoimmune/inflammatory diseases such as chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. The chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy lesions were often found to be infiltrated with V alpha 24J alpha Q NK T cells, but multiple sclerosis lesions only rarely expressed the V alpha 24J alpha Q TCR. It is therefore possible that the extent of NK T cell alteration may be a critical factor which would define the clinical and pathological features of autoimmune disease. Although the mechanism underlying the NK T cell deletion remains largely unclear, a remarkable contrast between the CNS and peripheral nervous system diseases allows us to speculate a role of tissue-specific elements such as the level of CD1d expression or differences in the CD1d-bound glycolipid.

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