Presumed guilty: natural killer T cell defects and human disease

Nat Rev Immunol. 2011 Feb;11(2):131-42. doi: 10.1038/nri2904.

Abstract

Natural killer T (NKT) cells are important regulatory lymphocytes that have been shown in mouse studies, to have a crucial role in promoting immunity to tumours, bacteria and viruses, and in suppressing cell-mediated autoimmunity. Many clinical studies have indicated that NKT cell deficiencies and functional defects might also contribute to similar human diseases, although there is no real consensus about the nature of the NKT cell defects or whether NKT cells could be important for the diagnosis and/or treatment of these conditions. In this Review, we describe the approaches that have been used to analyse the NKT cell populations of various patient groups, suggest new strategies to determine how (or indeed, if) NKT cell defects contribute to human disease, and discuss the prospects for using NKT cells for therapeutic benefit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Communicable Diseases / immunology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Natural Killer T-Cells / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*