Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are a unique subset of T lymphocytes that share characteristics with both innate and adaptive immune cells. The iNKT cell receptor recognizes glycolipid antigens presented in the context of CD1d, an analogue of the major histocompatibility complex class I molecule. These cells rapidly produce a variety of cytokines in response to stimuli, providing them with the capacity to regulate the activities of other cells in the immune system. These regulatory properties of iNKT cells play critical roles in a variety of disease models for infection, autoimmunity, inflammation and cancer. Here, we review the role of iNKT cells in modulating the immune response in autoimmune diseases and we discuss prospects and limitations for targeting iNKT cells during immunotherapy for these diseases.
Keywords: Invariant natural killer T cells, immunomodulation, glycolipids, autoimmunity, CD1d, α-galactosylceramide
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