Going both ways: immune regulation via CD1d-dependent NKT cells

J Clin Invest. 2004 Nov;114(10):1379-88. doi: 10.1172/JCI23594.


NKT cells are a unique T lymphocyte sublineage that has been implicated in the regulation of immune responses associated with a broad range of diseases, including autoimmunity, infectious diseases, and cancer. In stark contrast to both conventional T lymphocytes and other types of Tregs, NKT cells are reactive to the nonclassical class I antigen-presenting molecule CD1d, and they recognize glycolipid antigens rather than peptides. Moreover, they can either up- or downregulate immune responses by promoting the secretion of Th1, Th2, or immune regulatory cytokines. This review will explore the diverse influences of these cells in various disease models, their ability to suppress or enhance immunity, and the potential for manipulating these cells as a novel form of immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Antigens, CD1 / immunology*
  • Autoimmunity / immunology
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Down-Regulation
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / pathology
  • Immunotherapy
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Up-Regulation


  • Antigens
  • Antigens, CD1
  • Cytokines