Human leukemic cells loaded with alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer) activate murine NKT cells in situ

Int J Hematol. 2010 Jul;92(1):152-60. doi: 10.1007/s12185-010-0616-7. Epub 2010 Jun 16.


Invariant NKT cells (NKT) cells become activated after stimulation with antigen-presenting cells (APCs) loaded with the NKT cell ligand, alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer). In this study, we investigated whether human APCs loaded with alpha-GalCer have the ability to activate NKT cells in mice. We found that human dendritic cells (DCs) loaded with alpha-GalCer (hDC/Gal) and injected into C57BL/6 mice stimulated the secretion of IFN-gamma by activated murine NKT cells. Furthermore, the number of transferred hDC/Gal correlated with the number of recovered IFN-gamma-producing spleen cells, indicating that the capacity of APCs to load alpha-GalCer can be measured by IFN-gamma release in an ELISPOT assay. Finally, alpha-GalCer-loaded human leukemic cell lines and primary leukemic cells injected into C57BL/6 mice also had the capacity to stimulate murine NKT cells in vivo. These results indicate that in vivo murine NKT cell responses can be used to quantitate the alpha-GalCer-loading capacity of human APCs. This method could be utilized to develop future immunotherapies in which NKT cells are targeted for activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / immunology
  • Cell Transplantation
  • Child
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / transplantation
  • Female
  • Galactosylceramides / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Killer Cells, Natural / drug effects*
  • Leukemia / pathology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult


  • Galactosylceramides
  • alpha-galactosylceramide
  • Interferon-gamma