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Type I Natural Killer T Cells as Key Regulators of the Immune Response to Infectious Diseases
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  (IF26.132),  Pub Date : 2020-12-23, DOI: 10.1128/cmr.00232-20
Nicolás M. S. Gálvez, Karen Bohmwald, Gaspar A. Pacheco, Catalina A. Andrade, Leandro J. Carreño, Alexis M. Kalergis

The immune system must work in an orchestrated way to achieve an optimal response upon detection of antigens. The cells comprising the immune response are traditionally divided into two major subsets, innate and adaptive, with particular characteristics for each type. Type I natural killer T (iNKT) cells are defined as innate-like T cells sharing features with both traditional adaptive and innate cells, such as the expression of an invariant T cell receptor (TCR) and several NK receptors. The invariant TCR in iNKT cells interacts with CD1d, a major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I)-like molecule. CD1d can bind and present antigens of lipid nature and induce the activation of iNKT cells, leading to the secretion of various cytokines, such as gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and interleukin 4 (IL-4). These cytokines will aid in the activation of other immune cells following stimulation of iNKT cells. Several molecules with the capacity to bind to CD1d have been discovered, including α-galactosylceramide. Likewise, several molecules have been synthesized that are capable of polarizing iNKT cells into different profiles, either pro- or anti-inflammatory. This versatility allows NKT cells to either aid or impair the clearance of pathogens or to even control or increase the symptoms associated with pathogenic infections. Such diverse contributions of NKT cells to infectious diseases are supported by several publications showing either a beneficial or detrimental role of these cells during diseases. In this article, we discuss current data relative to iNKT cells and their features, with an emphasis on their driving role in diseases produced by pathogenic agents in an organ-oriented fashion.