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Scand J Immunol. 2008 Mar;67(3):230-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3083.2007.02062.x. Epub 2008 Jan 22.

Effect of high fat diet on NKT cell function and NKT cell-mediated regulation of Th1 responses.

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Division of Immunobiology, Research Section of Pathophysiology, Institute for Genetic Medicine, Hokkaido University, Japan.


Diet is one of the important factors that modulate immune responses. In the present study, we have examined the capacity of dietary lipids to modify immune responses in mice and we have investigated the contribution of glycolipid-reactive natural killer T (NKT) cells in this process. Mice fed, high fat diet (HFD; 21.2% fat, 0.20% cholesterol) for 3 weeks, as compared with mice fed standard fat diet (SFD; 4.3% fat, 0.03% cholesterol), showed significantly reduced interferon-gamma production in sera at 6 or 12 h after intraperitoneal injection of an NKT cell ligand, alpha-galactosylceramide. In contrast, production of interleukin-13 was significantly higher at 2 and 6 h in HFD fed mice compared with mice on SFD. No difference was detected in the serum interleukin-4 levels between these two groups of animals. The proportion of NKT cells in spleen and liver was reduced in mice fed HFD compared with those on SFD. In addition, activation of NKT cells assessed by up-regulation of CD69 was suppressed specifically in liver from mice fed HFD. Recall responses of conventional T cells and delayed-type hypersensitivity (Th1 type) against ovalbumin were significantly suppressed in mice fed HFD in comparison with those fed SFD. This suppression was not observed in CD1d-/- mice, suggesting that NKT cells in mice fed HFD played a role in suppressing Th1 responses. Taken together, our findings suggest a critical link between NKT cells, dietary lipid and adaptive immune responses.

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