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Curr Opin Immunol. 2010 Dec;22(6):807-13. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2010.10.008. Epub 2010 Nov 4.

Role of NKT cells in allergic asthma.

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Department of Immunology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.


T helper 2 (Th2) cells play crucial roles in the development of allergic asthma, while various distinct cell populations also contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease. Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells produce large amounts of cytokines such as IL-4 and IFNγ upon stimulation with a ligand, α-galactosylceramide, and regulate various immune responses. Recently, a critical role of iNKT cells in the mouse model of asthma and also in asthma patients has been reported, while some contradictory results have also been described. Here, we summarize the experimental results in mouse and human systems, and discuss the current understanding of the role of NKT cells in the pathogenesis of asthma, including a possible mechanism by which iNKT cells are activated in asthma patients.

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