V alpha 24+ natural killer T cells are markedly decreased in atopic dermatitis patients

Hum Immunol. 2003 Jun;64(6):586-92. doi: 10.1016/s0198-8859(03)00066-1.


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common inflammatory skin disease. In AD, cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-4 or interferon (IFN)-gamma are considered to affect the disease status. Recently, human V alpha 24(+) natural killer T (NKT) cells have been found to produce large amounts of IL-4 and IFN-gamma. Thus there is a possibility that the proportion of V alpha 24(+) NKT cells modifies the AD status. In this study, we examine the proportion of the V alpha 24(+)/V beta 11(+) cells that composes the V alpha 24(+) NKT cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 71 healthy donors (HDs) and 31 AD patients. Because CD4(-) and CD4(+) NKT subsets show different cytokine production patterns concerning IL-4, these two subsets are evaluated. Our results have shown that the proportion of the V alpha 24(+) NKT cells is markedly reduced in AD patients. In addition, the CD4(-) V alpha 24(+) NKT subset has a tendency to be more reduced than the CD4(+) V alpha 24(+) NKT subset. Moreover, the proportion of CD4(-) V alpha 24(+) NKT(+) cells and Th2 deviation of Th1/Th2 balance is inversely correlated. These observations may contribute to the understanding of the mechanism involved in AD.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD4 Antigens / immunology
  • Cell Count
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / pathology
  • Eosinophils / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • CD4 Antigens
  • Interleukin-4
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Interferon-gamma