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Hepatology. 2013 Mar;57(3):1250-61. doi: 10.1002/hep.26086. Epub 2013 Feb 11.

Intestinal mucus-derived nanoparticle-mediated activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling plays a role in induction of liver natural killer T cell anergy in mice.

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Louisville Veterans Administration Medical Center, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville, KY 40202, USA.

Erratum in

  • Hepatology. 2016 Apr;63(4):1404.


The Wnt/β-catenin pathway has been known to play a role in induction of immune tolerance, but its role in the induction and maintenance of natural killer T (NKT) cell anergy is unknown. We found that activation of the Wnt pathways in the liver microenvironment is important for induction of NKT cell anergy. We identified a number of stimuli triggering Wnt/β-catenin pathway activation, including exogenous NKT cell activator, glycolipid α-GalCer, and endogenous prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Glycolipid α-GalCer treatment of mice induced the expression of wnt3a and wnt5a in the liver and subsequently resulted in a liver microenvironment that induced NKT cell anergy to α-GalCer restimulation. We also found that circulating PGE2 carried by nanoparticles is stable, and that these nanoparticles are A33(+) . A33(+) is a marker of intestinal epithelial cells, which suggests that the nanoparticles are derived from the intestine. Mice treated with PGE2 associated with intestinal mucus-derived exosome-like nanoparticles (IDENs) induced NKT cell anergy. PGE2 treatment leads to activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway by inactivation of glycogen synthase kinase 3β of NKT cells. IDEN-associated PGE2 also induces NKT cell anergy through modification of the ability of dendritic cells to induce interleukin-12 and interferon-β in the context of both glycolipid presentation and Toll-like receptor-mediated pathways.


These findings demonstrate that IDEN-associated PGE2 serves as an endogenous immune modulator between the liver and intestines and maintains liver NKT cell homeostasis. This finding has implications for development of NKT cell-based immunotherapies. (HEPATOLOGY 2013).

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