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Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder which is caused by a mutation of the huntingtin (HTT) gene. Although the pathogenesis of HD has been associated with inflammatory responses, if and how the immune system contributes to the onset of HD is largely unknown. Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are a group of innate-like regulatory T lymphocytes that can rapidly produce various cytokines such as IFN and IL4 upon stimulation with the glycolipid -galactosylceramide (-GalCer). By employing both R6/2 Tg mice (murine HD model) and J18 KO mice (deficient in iNKT cells), we investigated whether alterations of iNKT cells affect the development of HD in R6/2 Tg mice. We found that J18 KO R6/2 Tg mice showed disease progression comparable to R6/2 Tg mice, indicating that the absence of iNKT cells did not have any significant effects on HD development. However, repeated activation of iNKT cells with -GalCer facilitated HD progression in R6/2 Tg mice, and this was associated with increased infiltration of iNKT cells in the brain. Taken together, our results demonstrate that repeated -GalCer treatment of R6/2 Tg mice accelerates HD progression, suggesting that immune activation can affect the severity of HD pathogenesis.
Graphene oxide (GO) modulates the functions of antigen-presenting cells including dendritic cells (DCs). Although carbon nanotubes affect expression of the MHC class I-like CD1d molecule, whether GO can influence immune responses of CD1d-dependent invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells remains unclear. Here, we investigated the impact of GO on inflammatory responses mediated by α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer), an iNKT cell agonist. We found that in vivo GO treatment substantially inhibited the capacity of α-GalCer to induce the iNKT cell-mediated trans-activation of and cytokine production by innate and innate-like cells, including DCs, macrophages, NK cells, and γδ T cells. Such effects of GO on α-GalCer-induced inflammatory responses closely correlated with iNKT cell polarization towards TGFβ production, which also explains the capacity of GO to expand regulatory T cells. Interestingly, the absence of TLR4, a receptor for GO, failed to downregulate, and instead partially enhanced the anti-inflammatory activity of GO against α-GalCer-elicited responses, implying negative effects of TLR4 signaling on the anti-inflammatory properties of GO. By employing an α-GalCer-induced sepsis model, we further demonstrated that GO treatment significantly protected mice from α-GalCer-induced lethality. Taken together, we provide strong evidence that GO holds promise as an adjuvant to modulate iNKT cell responses for immunotherapy.
The present study investigated the immunoenhancing property of our newly designed nanovaccine, that is, its ability to induce antigen-specific immunity. This study also evaluated the synergistic effect of a novel compound PBS-44, an α-galactosylceramide analog, in boosting the immune response induced by our nanovaccine. The nanovaccine was prepared by encapsulating ovalbumin (ova) and an adjuvant within the poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles. Quantitative analysis of our study data showed that the encapsulated vaccine was physically and biologically stable; the core content of our nanovaccine was found to be released steadily and slowly, and nearly 90% of the core content was slowly released over the course of 25 days. The in vivo immunization studies exhibited that the nanovaccine induced stronger and longer immune responses compared to its soluble counterpart. Similarly, intranasal inhalation of the nanovaccine induced more robust antigen-specific CD8 T cell response than intraperitoneal injection of nanovaccine.
It has been shown that CD1d expression and glycolipid-reactive, CD1d-restricted NKT cells exacerbate the development of obesity and insulin resistance in mice. However, the relevant CD1d-expressing cells that influence the effects of NKT cells on the progression of obesity remain incompletely defined. In this study, we have demonstrated that 3T3-L1 adipocytes can present endogenous ligands to NKT cells, leading to IFN-γ production, which in turn, stimulated 3T3-L1 adipocytes to enhance expression of CD1d and CCL2, and decrease expression of adiponectin. Furthermore, adipocyte-specific CD1d deletion decreased the size of the visceral adipose tissue mass and enhanced insulin sensitivity in mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD). Accordingly, NKT cells were less activated, IFN-γ production was significantly reduced, and levels of adiponectin were increased in these animals as compared with control mice on HFD. Importantly, macrophage recruitment into the adipose tissue of adipocyte-specific CD1d-deficient mice was significantly blunted. These findings indicate that interactions between NKT cells and CD1d-expressing adipocytes producing endogenous NKT cell ligands play a critical role in the induction of inflammation and functional modulation of adipose tissue that leads to obesity.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes demyelination of neurons in the central nervous system. Traditional therapies for MS have involved anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs with significant side effects that often only provide short-term relief. A more desirable outcome of immunotherapy would be to protect against disease before its clinical manifestation or to halt disease after its initiation. One attractive approach to accomplish this goal would be to restore tolerance by targeting immunoregulatory cell networks. Although much of the work in this area has focused on CD4(+) Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells, other studies have investigated natural killer T (NKT) cells, a subset of T cells that recognizes glycolipid antigens in the context of the CD1d glycoprotein. Studies with human MS patients have revealed alterations in the numbers and functions of NKT cells, which have been partially supported by studies with the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis model of MS. Additional studies have shown that activation of NKT cells with synthetic lipid antigens can, at least under certain experimental conditions, protect mice against the development of MS-like disease. Although mechanisms of this protection remain to be fully investigated, current evidence suggests that it involves interactions with other immunoregulatory cell types such as regulatory T cells and immunosuppressive myeloid cells. These studies have provided a strong foundation for the rational design of NKT-cell-based immunotherapies for MS that induce tolerance while sparing overall immune function. Nevertheless, additional pre-clinical and clinical studies will be required to bring this goal to fruition.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Invariant NKT (iNKT) cells are a subset of T lymphocytes that recognize glycolipid Ags presented by the MHC class I-related protein CD1d. Activation of iNKT cells with glycolipid Ags, such as the marine sponge-derived reagent α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer), results in the rapid production of a variety of cytokines and activation of many other immune cell types. These immunomodulatory properties of iNKT cells have been exploited for the development of immunotherapies against a variety of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, but mechanisms by which activated iNKT cells confer disease protection have remained incompletely understood. In this study, we demonstrate that glycolipid-activated iNKT cells cooperate with myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in protecting mice against the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in mice, an animal model for multiple sclerosis. We show that α-GalCer induced the expansion and immunosuppressive activities of MDSCs in the spleen of mice induced for development of EAE. Disease protection in these animals also correlated with recruitment of MDSCs to the CNS. Depletion of MDSCs abrogated the protective effects of α-GalCer against EAE and, conversely, adoptive transfer of MDSCs from α-GalCer-treated mice ameliorated passive EAE induced in recipient animals. The cytokines GM-CSF, IL-4, and IFN-γ, produced by activated iNKT cells, and inducible NO synthase, arginase-1, and IL-10 produced by MDSCs, contributed to these effects. Our findings have revealed cooperative immunosuppressive interactions between iNKT cells and MDSCs that might be exploited for the development of improved immunotherapies for multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
Obesity triggers a low-grade systemic inflammation, which plays an important role in the development of obesity-associated metabolic diseases. In searching for links between lipid accumulation and chronic inflammation, we examined invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells, a subset of T lymphocytes that react with lipids and regulate inflammatory responses. We show that iNKT cells respond to dietary lipid excess and become activated before or at the time of tissue recruitment of inflammatory leukocytes, and that these cells progressively increase proinflammatory cytokine production in obese mice. Such iNKT cells skew other leukocytes toward proinflammatory cytokine production and induce an imbalanced proinflammatory cytokine environment in multiple tissues. Further, iNKT cell deficiency ameliorates tissue inflammation and provides protection against obesity-induced insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis. Conversely, chronic iNKT cell stimulation using a canonical iNKT cell agonist exacerbates tissue inflammation and obesity-associated metabolic disease. These findings place iNKT cells into the complex network linking lipid excess to inflammation in obesity and suggest new therapeutic avenues for obesity-associated metabolic disorders.
NKT cells that express the semi-invariant TCR are innate-like lymphocytes whose functions are regulated by self and foreign glycolipid ligands presented by the Ag-presenting, MHC class I-like molecule CD1d. Activation of NKT cells in vivo results in rapid release of copious amounts of effector cytokines and chemokines with which they regulate innate and adaptive immune responses to pathogens, certain types of cancers, and self-antigens. The nature of CD1d-restricted ligands, the manner in which they are recognized, and the unique effector functions of NKT cells suggest an immunoregulatory role for this T cell subset. Their ability to respond fast and our ability to steer NKT cell cytokine response to altered lipid ligands make them an important target for vaccine design and immunotherapies against autoimmune diseases. This review summarizes our current understanding of CD1d-restricted ligand recognition by NKT cells and how these innate-like lymphocytes regulate inflammation.
Invariant NK T (iNKT) cells are a subset of T lymphocytes that recognize glycolipid antigens bound with the antigen-presenting molecule CD1d. iNKT cells have potent immunoregulatory activities that can promote or suppress immune responses during different pathological conditions. These immunoregulatory properties can be harnessed for therapeutic purposes with cognate glycolipid antigens, such as the marine sponge-derived glycosphingolipid α-galactosylceramide. Preclinical studies have shown substantial promise for iNKT cell-based treatments of infections, cancer and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Translation of these preclinical studies to the clinic, while faced with some obstacles, has already had some initial success. In this article, we review the immunodulatory activities of iNKT cells and the potential for developing iNKT cell-based prophylactic and curative therapies of human disease.
OBJECTIVE - In this study, we investigated whether dyslipidemia-associated perturbed invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cell function is due to intrinsic changes in iNKT cells or defects in the ability of antigen-presenting cells to activate iNKT cells.
METHODS AND RESULTS - We compared iNKT cell expansion and cytokine production in C57BL/6J (B6) and apolipoprotein E-deficient (apoE(-/-)) mice. In response to in vivo stimulation with alpha-galactosylceramide, a prototypic iNKT cell glycolipid antigen, apoE(-/-) mice showed significantly decreased splenic iNKT cell expansion at 3 days after injection, a profile associated with iNKT cell anergy due to chronic stimulation. This decrease in expansion and cytokine production was accompanied by a 2-fold increase in percentage of iNKT cells expressing the inhibitory marker programmed death-1 in apoE(-/-) mice compared with controls. However, in vivo and in vitro blockade of programmed death-1 using monoclonal antibody was not able to restore functions of iNKT cells from apoE(-/-) mice to B6 levels. iNKT cells from apoE(-/-) mice also had increased intracellular T cell receptor and Ly49 expression, a phenotype associated with previous activation. Changes in iNKT cell functions were cell autonomous, because dendritic cells from apoE(-/-) mice were able to activate B6 iNKT cells, but iNKT cells from apoE(-/-) mice were not able to respond to B6 dendritic cells.
CONCLUSIONS - These data suggest that chronic dyslipidemia induces an iNKT cell phenotype that is unresponsive to further simulation by exogenous glycolipid and that sustained unresponsiveness is iNKT cell intrinsic.