NKT and T cells: coordinate regulation of NK-like phenotype and cytokine production

Eur J Immunol. 2002 Dec;32(12):3453-62. doi: 10.1002/1521-4141(200212)32:12<3453::AID-IMMU3453>3.0.CO;2-D.


A maturation-dependent change in phenotype and cytokine production from relatively immature CD161(-) or CD161(+), IL-13(+)IL-4(+), IFN-gamma(-), to mature CD161(+)CD56(+) IFN-gamma(+) cells occurs in primary human alpha-galactosyl ceramide-reactive CD1d-restricted natural killer T (NKT) cells under the control of IL-12 and other monokines. Modulation of this process upon alpha-galactosyl ceramide stimulation explains the opposite roles of NKT cells to drive type 1 and type 2 immune responses. Because the same developmental changes occurred and were similarly regulated in T cells, the data establish that NKT cells should no longer be considered a functionally unique regulatory subset. However, the results of their analysis can be taken as a model for immunotherapeutic approaches with T cells for which a nominal or surrogate antigen is defined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD1 / metabolism
  • Antigens, CD1d
  • Antigens, Surface / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD56 Antigen / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Galactosylceramides / immunology
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-13 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Killer Cells, Natural / cytology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Lectins, C-Type / metabolism
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily B
  • Phenotype
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*


  • Antigens, CD1
  • Antigens, CD1d
  • Antigens, Surface
  • CD1D protein, human
  • CD56 Antigen
  • Cytokines
  • Galactosylceramides
  • Interleukin-13
  • KLRB1 protein, human
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily B
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma