During toxic shock syndrome (TSS), bacterial superantigens trigger a polyclonal T -cell response leading to a potentially catastrophic "cytokine storm". Whether innate-like invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells, with remarkable immunomodulatory properties, participate in TSS is unclear. Using genetic and cell depletion approaches, we generated iNKT cell-deficient, superantigen-sensitive HLA-DR4-transgenic (DR4tg) mice, which were compared with their iNKT-sufficient counterparts for responsiveness to staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB). Both approaches indicate that iNKT cells are pathogenic in TSS. Importantly, treating DR4tg mice with a TH2-polarizing glycolipid agonist of iNKT cells reduced SEB-inflicted morbidity/mortality. Therefore, iNKT cells may constitute an attractive therapeutic target in superantigen-mediated illnesses.
Keywords: Invariant natural killer T cells; Staphylococcus aureus; inflammation; staphylococcal enterotoxin B; superantigen; toxic shock syndrome; cytokines.
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