Natural killer T (NKT) cells are a small subset of unconventional T cells that recognize lipid antigens presented by the nonclassical major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecule CD1d. NKT cells are involved in the host response to a variety of microbial pathogens and likely commensals. In the intestine, invariant and noninvariant NKT cells can be found among intraepithelial lymphocytes and in the lamina propria. Activation of intestinal NKT cells by CD1d-expressing intestinal epithelial cells and professional antigen-presenting cells may contribute to induction of oral tolerance and protection from mucosal infections. On the other hand, sustained and uncontrolled activation of NKT cells may play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. Here we review the current literature on intestinal NKT cells and their function in the intestine in health and disease. Copyright

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American Journal of Physiology: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Zeissig, S., Kaser, A., Dougan, S., Nieuwenhuis, E., & Blumberg, R. (2007). Role of NKT cells in the digestive system. III. Role of NKT cells in intestinal immunity. American Journal of Physiology: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 293(6). doi:10.1152/ajpgi.00342.2007