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J Immunol. 2007 Nov 15;179(10):6630-7.

Peripheral NK1.1 NKT cells are mature and functionally distinct from their thymic counterparts.

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1
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Abstract

One interesting aspect of NKT cell development is that although they are thymus dependent, the pivotal transition from NK1.1(-) to NK1.1(+) can often take place after immature NK1.1(-) NKT cells are exported to the periphery. NK1.1(-) NKT cells in general are regarded as immature precursors of NK1.1(+) NKT cells, meaning that peripheral NK1.1(-) NKT cells are regarded as a transient, semimature population of recent thymic emigrant NKT cells. In this study, we report the unexpected finding that most NK1.1(-) NKT cells in the periphery of naive mice are actually part of a stable, mature and functionally distinct NKT cell population. Using adult thymectomy, we show that the size of the peripheral NK1.1(-) NKT cell pool is maintained independently of thymic export and is not the result of NK1.1 down-regulation by mature cells. We also demonstrate that most peripheral NK1.1(-) NKT cells are functionally distinct from their immature thymic counterparts, and from NK1.1(+) NKT cells in the periphery. We conclude that the vast majority of peripheral NK1.1(-) NKT cells are part of a previously unrecognized, mature NKT cell subset.

PMID:
17982053
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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