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Natural killer T cell and pathophysiology of asthma

Korean Journal of Pediatrics 2010;53(2):136-145.
Published online February 15, 2010.
Natural killer T cell and pathophysiology of asthma
Gwang Cheon Jang
Department of Pediatrics, NHIC Ilsan Hospital, Ilsan, Korea
Natural killer T cell and pathophysiology of asthma
장광천
국민건강보험공단 일산병원 소아청소년과
Correspondence: 
Gwang Cheon Jang, Tel: +82.31-900-0520, Fax: 031-900-0343, Email: janggwangcheon@daum.net
Abstract
Natural killer T (NKT) cell is a special type of T lymphocytes that has both receptor of natural killer (NK) cell (NK1.1, CD161c) and T cell (TCR) and express a conserved or invariant T cell receptor called Vα14Jα18 in mice or Va24 in humans. Invariant NKT (iNKT) cell recognizes lipid antigen presented by CD1d molecules. Marine-sponge-derived glycolipid, α- galactosylceremide (α-GalCer), binds CD1d at the cell surface of antigen-presenting cells and is presented to iNKT cells. Within hours, iNKT cells become activated and start to secrete Interleukin-4 and interferon-γ. NKT cell prevents autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, systemic lupus erythematous, inflammatory colitis, and Graves' thyroiditis, by activation with α-GalCer. In addition, NKT cell is associated with infectious diseases by mycobacteria, leshmania, and virus. Moreover NKT cell is associated with asthma, especially CD4+ iNKT cells. In this review, I will discuss the characteristics of NKT cell and the association with inflammatory diseases, especially asthma.
Key Words: NKT cell, Asthma, CD1d molecule, α-GalCer


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