Eicosanoids are inflammatory mediators that play a key but incompletely understood role in linking the innate and adaptive immune systems. Here, we show that cytotoxic effector T cells (CTLs) are capable of both producing and responding to cysteinyl leukotrienes (CystLTs), allowing for the killing of target cells in a T cell receptor-independent manner. This process is dependent on the natural killer receptor NKG2D and exposure to IL-15, a cytokine induced in distressed tissues. IL-15 and NKG2D signaling drives the up-regulation of key enzymes implicated in the synthesis of CystLTs, as well as the expression of CystLT receptors, suggesting a positive feedback loop. Finally, although the CystLT pathway has been previously linked to various allergic disorders, we provide unexpected evidence for its involvement in the pathogenesis of celiac disease (CD), a T helper 1 cell-mediated enteropathy induced by gluten. These findings provide new insights into the cytolytic signaling pathway of NKG2D and the pathogenesis of organ-specific immune disorders. Furthermore, they suggest that the blockade of CystLT receptors may represent a potent therapeutic target for CD or potentially other autoimmune disorders in which NKG2D has been implicated.
© 2015 Tang et al.