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J Immunol. 2008 Jul 1;181(1):81-91.

Critical role for the chemokine receptor CXCR6 in homeostasis and activation of CD1d-restricted NKT cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


NK T (NKT) cells play important roles in the regulation of diverse immune responses. However, little is known about the mechanisms that regulate homeostasis and activation of these cells. Thymic NKT cells up-regulated the chemokine receptor CXCR6 following positive selection and migrated toward CXCL16 in vitro. However, CXCR6 was not essential for thymic development or maturation. In contrast, liver and lung NKT cells were depleted in CXCR6+/- and CXCR6-/- mice. The reduction in liver and lung NKT cells coincided with an increase in bone marrow NKT cells, suggesting a redistribution of NKT cells in CXCR6-/- animals. In wild-type mice, CXCL16 neutralization reduced accumulation of mature NK1.1+, but not immature NK1.1- NKT cell recent thymic emigrants in the liver. Given that thymic NKT cells are preferentially exported as NK1.1- cells, this suggests an additional role for CXCR6/CXCL16 in maturation or survival of immature liver NKT cells. CXCL16 blockade did not deplete resident NK1.1+ NKT cells, indicating that CXCR6/CXCL16 are not required to retain mature NKT cells in the liver. Cytokine production by liver and spleen NKT cells was impaired in CXCR6-/- mice following in vivo stimulation with alpha-galactosylceramide, implicating a novel role for CXCR6 in NKT cell activation. Reduced IFN-gamma production was not due to an intrinsic defect as production was normal following PMA and ionomycin stimulation. Preformed transcripts for IL-4, but not IFN-gamma, were reduced in CXCR6-/- liver NKT cells. These data identify critical roles for CXCR6/CXCL16 in NKT cell activation and the regulation of NKT cell homeostasis.

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