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Eur J Immunol. 2005 Oct;35(10):2803-14.

Suppression of eosinophilic airway inflammation by treatment with alpha-galactosylceramide.

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Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan.


To clarify the essential role of NKT cells in allergy, we investigated the contribution of NKT cells to the pathogenesis of eosinophilic airway inflammation using alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer), a selective ligand for NKT cells. Although continuous administration of alpha-GalCer during ovalbumin (OVA) sensitization increased OVA-specific IgE levels and worsened eosinophil inflammation, a single administration of alpha-GalCer at the time of OVA challenge completely prevented eosinophilic infiltration in wild-type mice. This inhibitory effect of alpha-GalCer was associated with a decrease in airway hyperresponsiveness, an increase in IFN-gamma, and decreases in IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13 levels in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluids. Analysis of lung lymphocytes revealed that production of IFN-gamma increased in NK cells, but not in T or NKT cells, following alpha-GalCer administration. Induction of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 in the lungs of wild-type mice was also significantly attenuated by treatment with alpha-GalCer. These effects of alpha-GalCer were abrogated in J alpha281-/- mice, which lack NKT cells, and in wild-type mice treated with anti-IFN-gamma Ab. Hence, our data indicate that alpha-GalCer suppresses allergen-induced eosinophilic airway inflammation, possibly by inducing a Th1 bias that results in inhibition of eosinophil adhesion to the lung vessels.

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