Valpha14 NKT cell-mediated anti-tumor responses and their clinical application

Springer Semin Immunopathol. 2005 Jun;27(1):65-74. doi: 10.1007/s00281-004-0194-y. Epub 2005 Jan 14.


A unique lymphocyte population, Valpha14 NKT cells, has recently been revealed to be a key player in the immune responses against tumors. Activation of Valpha14 NKT cells affects various cell types, particularly dendritic cells (DCs), NK cells, CD4 Th1 cells, and CD8 cytotoxic T cells in the innate and acquired immune systems, eventually resulting in the enhanced activation of NKT cell-mediated cellular cascade in the anti-tumor responses. The specific ligand, alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer), effectively stimulates mouse and human NKT cells, making NKT cells an ideal target for the development of cancer immunotherapy. Clinical trials using alpha-GalCer have actually started in several centers in the world. In this review, we summarize the Valpha14 NKT cell-mediated cellular cascade in the anti-tumor response in mice and discuss potential clinical applications of alpha-GalCer-pulsed DC therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic*
  • Galactosylceramides / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / physiology
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell


  • Galactosylceramides
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell
  • alpha-galactosylceramide