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J Hepatol. 2006 Aug;45(2):190-6. Epub 2006 Feb 28.

Enhanced ability of peripheral invariant natural killer T cells to produce IL-13 in chronic hepatitis C virus infection.

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Department of Dendritic Cell Biology and Clinical Application, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan.



Human invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells express a TCR Valpha24-JalphaQ paired with Vbeta11 and are activated by a surrogate ligand, alpha-galactosylceramide (alphaGalCer). The iNKT cells are involved in the regulation of anti-viral immune responses; however, little is known about their roles in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.


We compared the frequency of peripheral iNKT cells and their cytokine producing capacity reactive to alphaGalCer between chronically HCV-infected patients and healthy subjects. Cytokine production of freshly isolated iNKT cells were analyzed by ELISPOT. Activated iNKT cells were obtained by culture with alphaGalCer-loaded dendritic cells (DCs) and re-stimulated with them for the measurement of cytokine production.


The frequencies of iNKT cells were not different between HCV-infected patients and healthy subjects. The number of fresh IFN-gamma-producing iNKT cells reactive to alphaGalCer was not different between the patients and controls, whereas fresh iNKT cells produced negligible amounts of Th2 cytokines regardless of HCV infection. In response to alphaGalCer, expanded iNKT cells from the patients secreted IFN-gamma comparable in amount to controls, whereas they released significantly more IL-13 than cells from controls.


Activated iNKT cells from HCV-infected patients gain more ability to secrete IL-13 than those from healthy subjects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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