NKT cells are a unique T lymphocyte sublineage that has been implicated in the regulation of immune responses associated with a broad range of diseases, including autoimmunity, infectious diseases, and cancer. In stark contrast to both conventional T lymphocytes and other types of Tregs, NKT cells are reactive to the nonclassical class I antigen–presenting molecule CD1d, and they recognize glycolipid antigens rather than peptides. Moreover, they can either up- or downregulate immune responses by promoting the secretion of Th1, Th2, or immune regulatory cytokines. This review will explore the diverse influences of these cells in various disease models, their ability to suppress or enhance immunity, and the potential for manipulating these cells as a novel form of immunotherapy.
Dale I. Godfrey, Mitchell Kronenberg