Th2 bias of CD4+ NKT cells derived from multiple sclerosis in remission

Int Immunol. 2003 Feb;15(2):279-88. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxg029.


Although CD1d-restricted NKT cells have been implicated as a participant in the regulatory mechanism of autoimmune diseases, it remains unclear how they would regulate human autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Furthermore, although the NKT cells comprise CD4(+) and CD4(-) populations, prior studies have often represented them as simply a CD4(-) population. Given that CD4(+) and CD4(-) NKT cells may represent functionally distinct populations, it appears crucial to examine the individual NKT subset in autoimmune diseases. Here we studied the frequency and cytokine phenotypes of the CD4(+) and CD4(-) NKT cells in fresh peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and of alpha-galactosylceramide-stimulated short-term cell lines obtained during the remission or relapse phase of MS as compared with from healthy subjects (HS). Here we report that CD4(+) NKT line cells expanded from MS in remission (MS-rem) would produce a larger amount of IL-4 than those from HS or from MS in relapse (MS-rel). They were significantly biased for T(h)2 as judged by the IL-4/IFN-gamma balance. However, there was no functional bias toward T(h)1 or T(h)2 in CD4(-) NKT line cells from MS-rem due to the defects in both IFN-gamma and IL-4 production, compared with HS. Of note, although double-negative NKT cells in the periphery were greatly reduced, the reduction of CD4(+) NKT cells was only marginal, if any, in MS-rem compared with HS. The T(h)2 bias of CD4(+) NKT line cells from MS-rem may support an immunoregulatory role for the CD4(+) NKT cells in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Galactosylceramides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism*


  • Galactosylceramides