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Clin Immunol. 2011 Aug;140(2):196-207. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2011.03.016. Epub 2011 Apr 13.

Activation of human invariant natural killer T cells with a thioglycoside analogue of α-galactosylceramide.

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Institute of Molecular Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, St James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.


Activation of CD1d-restricted invariant NKT (iNKT) cells with the glycolipid α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) confers protection against disease in murine models, however, clinical trials in humans have had limited impact. We synthesized a novel thioglycoside analogue of α-GalCer, denoted α-S-GalCer, and tested its efficacy for stimulating human iNKT cells in vitro. α-S-GalCer stimulated cytokine release by iNKT cells in a CD1d-dependent manner and primed CD1d(+) target cells for lysis. α-S-GalCer-stimulated iNKT cells induced maturation of monocyte-derived dendritic cells into antigen-presenting cells that released IL-12 and small amounts of IL-10. The nature and potency of α-S-GalCer and α-GalCer in human iNKT cell activation were similar. However, in contrast to α-GalCer, α-S-GalCer did not activate murine iNKT cells in vivo. Because of its enhanced stability in biological systems, α-S-GalCer may be superior to α-GalCer as a parent compound for developing adjuvant therapies for humans.

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