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Curr Med Chem. 2004 Jan;11(2):241-52.

Alpha-galactosylceramide: potential immunomodulatory activity and future application.

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Cancer Immunology Program, Trescowthick Laboratories, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, St. Andrews Place, East Melbourne, Victoria 3002, Australia.


alpha-Galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer), is a glycolipid which has been identified as a ligand recognized by a special group of immune T cells, known as invariant NKT cells. alpha-GalCer can powerfully activate invariant NKT cells to produce immunoregulatory cytokines, including interferon-gamma and IL-4, and thereby exert a variety of subsequent effects on other cells in the immune system. Recent studies have revealed the mechanism of alpha-GalCer-induced iNKT cell-activation in immune responses to tumors and microbes, and in the suppression of autoimmune diseases. In this review, we discuss the potential immunomodulatory activity of alpha-GalCer and its possible future application for clinical studies in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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