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Immunology. 2010 Jun;130(2):288-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2009.03234.x. Epub 2010 Jan 19.

Acidification-dependent activation of CD1d-restricted natural killer T cells is intact in cystic fibrosis.

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Department of Pediatrics, BC Children's Hospital and Child & Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.


CD1d-restricted natural killer T (NKT) cells are emerging as critical regulators of the immune response to infectious agents, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa; and therapies to augment NKT-cell activation may represent a novel approach to treat chronic, antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. We examined the capacity of dendritic cells (DCs) from people with cystic fibrosis (CF) to activate NKT cells. Our study was motivated by three lines of evidence: (i) NKT cells play a critical role in clearing P. aeruginosa infection; (ii) activation of NKT cells requires acidification-dependent processing of glycolipid antigens within the endolysosomal compartment; and (iii) endolysosomal acidification may be reduced in CF. We demonstrated that NKT-cell activation was dependent upon intact organelle acidification as inhibitors of the vacuolar (H(+))-ATPases prevented DCs from activating NKT cells with two glycolipid antigens, alpha-galactosylceramide and galactose-galactosylceramide. In contrast, cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) chloride channel dysfunction had no significant biological impact on the capacity of DCs to activate NKT cells. Dendritic cells from subjects with CF and DCs treated with the thiazolidinone CFTR(inh)-172 inhibitor showed no reduction in their ability to activate NKT cells. Based on these data, we find no evidence for an inherent defect in glycolipid antigen presentation to NKT cells in CF subjects.

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