Document Type


Journal Title

The Journal of experimental medicine

Publication Date





The function of natural killer T (NKT) cells in the immune system has yet to be determined. There is some evidence that their defect is associated with autoimmunity, but it is still unclear how they play a role in regulating the pathogenesis of T cell-mediated autoimmune diseases. It was originally proposed that NKT cells could control autoimmunity by shifting the cytokine profile of autoimmune T cells toward a protective T helper 2 cell (Th2) type. However, it is now clear that the major function of NKT cells in the immune system is not related to their interleukin (IL)-4 secretion. In fact, NKT cells mainly secrete interferon (IFN)-gamma and, activated in the presence of IL-12, acquire a strong inflammatory phenotype and cytotoxic function.

MeSH Headings

Animals, Autoimmunity, Cell Differentiation, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1, Inflammation, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin-12, Killer Cells, Natural, Lymphocyte Activation, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Inbred NOD, Mice, SCID, Phenotype, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, Th2 Cells



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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.