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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2012 Jun;65(1):43-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-695X.2012.00939.x. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

Protective role of α-galactosylceramide-stimulated natural killer T cells in genital tract infection with Chlamydia muridarum.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Shandong University School of Medicine, Jinan, China.


Natural killer T (NKT) cells are a unique lymphocyte subpopulation which has an important role in the response to microbial pathogens. In this study, we used α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer), a specific ligand of NKT cells, to enhance NKT response and examine its effect on host defense against genital tract Chlamydia muridarum infection. The results showed that α-GalCer treatment before infection led to reduced pathological changes and bacterial burden in the genital tract. Moreover, α-GalCer-treated mice showed greater local Th1 cytokine production [interferon γ (IFN-γ) and interleukin 12 (IL-12)] in local lymph node cells and genital tissues following challenge infection compared with untreated mice, as well as an enhanced level of IFN-γ production by NK and T cells. In addition, NKT cells in the mice with genital tract C. muridarum infection, unlike those from naïve mice, showed a polarized IFN-γ production. These results suggest a promoting role of NKT cells on type 1 T cell immune response and host resistance to Chlamydia in genital tract infection.

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