Natural killer T (NKT) cells are a subset of lymphocytes that express cell surface molecules of both conventional T cells and natural killer cells and share the features of both innate and adaptive immune cells. NKT cells have been proposed to make both protective and pathogenic contributions to inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). On the one hand, recent studies have shown that these cells are involved in the maintenance of mucosal homeostasis. On the other, NKT cells were shown to play a pathogenic role in human ulcerative colitis. Similar contrasting data have been generated in murine models of IBD. Whether the apparent differences in NKT response patterns depend on variations in NKT antigens and/or on the presence of specific subsets of mucosal NKT cells remains to be elucidated. In this article we review the current literature on intestinal NKT cells and their roles in IBD pathogenesis. Specifically, the nomenclature, NKT antigens, and immune mechanisms of NKT cells within the intestinal mucosa are discussed. Copyright

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Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Dieren, J., van der Woude, J., Kuipers, E., Escher, J., Samsom, J., Blumberg, R., & Nieuwenhuis, E. (2007). Roles of CD1d-restricted NKT cells in the intestine. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (Vol. 13, pp. 1146–1152). doi:10.1002/ibd.20164