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Immunology. 2006 Sep;119(1):116-25. Epub 2006 Jun 22.

The CD1d-binding glycolipid alpha-galactosylceramide enhances humoral immunity to T-dependent and T-independent antigen in a CD1d-dependent manner.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, NH 03766, USA.


Specific interaction of class II/peptide with the T-cell receptor (TCR) expressed by class II-restricted CD4+ T helper (Th) cells is essential for in vivo production of antibodies reactive with T-dependent antigen. In response to stimulation with CD1d-binding glycolipid, Valpha14+ TCR-expressing, CD1d-restricted natural killer T (NKT) cells may provide additional help for antibody production. We tested the hypothesis that the CD1d-binding glycolipid alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GC) enhances production of antibodies reactive with T-dependent antigen in vivo. alpha-GC enhanced antibody production in vivo in a CD1d-dependent manner in the presence of class II-restricted Th cells and induced a limited antibody response in Th-deficient mice. alpha-GC also led to alterations in isotype switch, selectively increasing production of immunoglobulin G2b. Further analysis revealed that alpha-GC led to priming of class II-restricted Th cells in vivo. Additionally, we observed that alpha-GC enhanced production of antibodies reactive with T-independent antigen, showing the effects of NKT cells on B cells independently of Th cells. Our data show that NKT cells have multiple effects on the induction of a humoral immune response. We propose that NKT cells could be exploited for the development of novel vaccines where protective antibody is required.

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