Recent studies indicate that invariant TCR+ CD1d-restricted natural killer T (iNKT) cells play an important role in regulating the development of asthma and allergy. iNKT cells can function to skew adaptive immunity toward Th2 responses, or can act directly as effector cells at mucosal surfaces in diseases such as ulcerative colitis and bronchial asthma. In mouse models of asthma, NKT cell-deficient strains fail to develop allergen-induced airway hyperreactivity (AHR), a cardinal feature of asthma, and NKT cells are found in the lungs of patients with chronic asthma, suggesting a critical role for NKT cells in the development of AHR. However, much work remains in characterizing iNKT cells and their function in asthma, and in understanding the relationship between the iNKT cells and conventional CD4+ T cells.
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View details for PubMedID 17593665