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Immunity. 1998 Sep;9(3):345-53.

Rapid death and regeneration of NKT cells in anti-CD3epsilon- or IL-12-treated mice: a major role for bone marrow in NKT cell homeostasis.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Lausanne Branch, University of Lausanne, Epalinges, Switzerland.


Natural killer T (NKT) cells express a T cell receptor (TCR) and markers common to NK cells, including NK1.1. In vivo, NKT cells are triggered by anti-CD3epsilon MAb to rapidly produce large amounts of IL-4 and by IL-12 to reject tumors. We show here that anti-CD3epsilon MAb treatment rapidly depletes the liver (and partially the spleen) of NKT cells and that homeostasis is achieved 1 to 2 days later via NKT cell proliferation that occurs mainly in bone marrow. Similar results were obtained in mice treated with IL-12. Collectively, our data demonstrate that peripheral NKT cells are highly sensitive to activation-induced cell death and that bone marrow plays a major role in restoring NKT cell homeostasis.

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