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Immunity. 2002 Dec;17(6):725-36.

NKT cells inhibit the onset of diabetes by impairing the development of pathogenic T cells specific for pancreatic beta cells.

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INSERM U561, Hôpital Cochin-Saint Vincent de Paul, 75014, Paris, France.


To determine the precise regulatory effect of NKT cells on CD4(+) T cells involved in autoimmune diabetes, we developed an in vivo model in which transferred naive transgenic T cells are stimulated by their antigen in the presence or absence of NKT cells or in the presence of another conventional transgenic alphabeta T cell. The presence of NKT cells did not block the initial activation and expansion of the CD4(+) T cells but did inhibit their IL-2 and IFN-gamma production and later proliferation, resulting in an anergic phenotype. These CD4(+) T cells did not induce significant insulitis and were unable to destroy the beta cells. Thus, NKT cells prevent alphabeta CD4 T cell differentiation into effector cells.

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